A diverse group of four hospital suppliers aims to cut healthcare facilities' costs and paperwork through a newly developed standardized electronic ordering system.
Analysts said it's about time such a system is developed, saying the suppliers, which include Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter International, are trying to offer one-stop shopping and be all things to all of their clients.
"This has been talked about for 10 years now, and it really should make things easier and better as far as the ordering process goes," said Patrick Carroll, a Cypress, Calif.-based materials management consultant. "It appears they have created the freeway on-ramp to the information superhighway."
The effort will establish a common data communications standard for the participating suppliers and hospitals to use when placing orders and making payments. Today, hospitals usually have to use a different computer system for each vendor, and the necessary purchase orders and invoices has created reams of paperwork.
Other participants in the project are Boise, Idaho-based Boise Cascade Corp., an office product marketer; Orange, Calif.-based Bergen Brunswig Corp., a pharmaceutical supplier; and Rochester, N.Y.-based Eastman Kodak Co., a distributor of imaging products.
TSI International Software Ltd. of Wilton, Conn., will supply electronic data interchange software for the effort. TSI executives said more vendors are expected to join the system later this year.
The system, called OnCall EDI, is expected to be available July 1.
But the suppliers said this new system will cut costs for hospitals of all sizes.
"Driving costs from the procurement process is a two-way street," said Connie Galley, president of TSI. "We have also designed the system so any com- pany doing business with hospitals, regardless of size, can participate."
A 250- to 300-bed hospital could save at least $40,000 to $50,000 in labor costs through the reduction of one full-time employee if such a system were implemented, said materials management analyst William McFaul of the McFaul & Lyons cost-containment consulting firm in Trenton, N.J.