Medical Waste Industry Insights

Stuck in A Stericycle Contract? 4 Steps to Switch Medical Waste Services

By David Ryan

Managing a medical practice comes with a long list of tasks and decisions. It’s unlikely that “choosing a regulated waste service” is high on that list. In all likelihood, you went with the first name that came to mind and moved on to other matters.


In many instances, the first provider on that list was Stericycle. They have been offering regulated waste services for many years and have strong brand recognition. Going with the most commonly heard name; however, doesn’t always align with the best service for your practice.


In fact, along with their brand recognition due to their long tenure in regulated waste service, Stericycle is also known for cumbersome and difficult contract language.


Are you trying to switch medical waste services, but feel stuck in a Stericycle contract?


With so many priorities to consider, you may not think about your regulated waste service very often. You’re not alone. Stericycle and other providers are counting on you to focus on other priorities, instead of searching for a better provider.


There are several ways to determine whether you are in a poor arrangement for your medical waste management. Once you have determined it’s time to leave for greener pastures, taking the right steps is critical to protect your practice.

The following steps can help you avoid unnecessary penalties and efficiently switch medical waste services:

Step 1 - Examine your contract and options carefully.

It is typically impossible to break a contract without incurring a penalty. In many cases; however, new potential partners will buy you out of your agreement or otherwise provide compensation to mitigate any penalties while switching medical waste services.


Before you begin thinking about how to break your contract, first examine your current contract carefully to see if there is any window for cancellation.


Most Stericycle contracts contain extremely difficult termination clauses. It is not uncommon to see contract durations of up to four years! On top of the contract length, cancellation typically requires sending a certified letter that is received between 60 and 90 days prior to the contracting ending to avoid auto renewal.


It is imperative you examine your contract to know your end date and react accordingly. If your cancellation date is within reach or you find another opportunity to break your contract (either within the contract itself or through a new potential medical waste services provider), remember to proceed with caution to avoid a similar trap in the future.

Step 2 - Search carefully for your next medical waste partner.

Be extremely careful while vetting potential regulated medical waste services. Otherwise, you could fall into a contract agreement structured similarly to Stericycle. We offer some suggestions for avoiding disreputable medical waste services providers here.


You may not realize that some medical waste management providers do not actually perform their services themselves. These “brokers” do not own the trucks carrying your waste away, nor do they actually employ the individuals collecting your waste. They bid out your work to the lowest bidder and collect the profits. While not automatically disreputable, some brokers operate with little concern for their customers, since they cannot actually control the quality of services.


It’s also important to avoid the “fly by night” regulated waste services. This industry has its share of “popup” businesses that lack the authority or experience that comes with years of delivering trustworthy service to clients.

Step 3 - Communicate your vendor change internally and externally.

Communicating the end date and intent to choose a new medical waste services provider is important to ensure another member of your team does not unwittingly succumb to the many communications Stericycle will enact once they hear of your intent to switch medical waste services.


In many instances, Stericycle will pepper members of your team with promises of steep discounts and “freebies” as a last-ditch retention effort. Unfortunately, this is common practice in our industry (and many others): a history of poor customer communication and service...that is, until clients decide to move elsewhere. It’s at that time that many companies receive more communication than they ever did during the partnership.


Often times, reputable medical waste services providers will know your contract end date and schedule follow-up with you accordingly in advance to assist you with renewal. In fact, if you’ve chosen a reputable partner who provides you with exemplary service, you don’t even need to read this article!

Step 4 - Work closely with your replacement medical waste vendor.  

Reputable medical waste services providers will have a conversion service to make the switch to your new vendor as simple and pain free as possible. They understand how challenging it can be for clients, and will go above and beyond to make switching medical waste services as simple as possible.


When choosing your next provider, put in your due diligence to understand the contract language and end dates, as well as the process your provider will take as that contract end date approaches.


Then finally… rest easy when you switch medical waste services providers.


If your search and vetting efforts have led to the right decision, you likely won’t have to go through the arduous process of switching again -- your new provider will have earned your trust and continued business by providing value, transparency and service.


Here at United Medical Waste Management, we aim to earn your continued business every day through seamless service, honest pricing and no long-term contracts. Contact us today to learn more.

 

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