Some healthcare associations actually hawk healthcare products.
Richard Wade, senior vice president of communications at the American Hospital Association, says the AHA limits its endorsements to what hospitals say they need most.
"The mission of the association has never been and will never be to be a shopping mall for its members," he says.
Earlier this month, the AHA announced a partnership with Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services Corp., Malvern, Pa., that is intended to help educate AHA members about the privacy regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
"The products we offer have to be tied to the strategic direction of the AHA," Wade says. "You will probably see a lot of (partnerships) in the information technology area, because that is the monkey that will be on the back of many of our members."
The Siemens endorsement, for which the AHA receives a flat sponsorship fee and a revenue stream based on contracts signed between Siemens and AHA members, actually will be a collaboration, with the AHA helping Siemens customize its educational products for members.
Anthony Burke, president and chief executive officer of AHA Financial Solutions, the association's subsidiary that handles its product endorsements, says the deal with Siemens allows AHA members to combine their efforts into a common response by the industry to the challenges of HIPAA. The AHA unit, formed in 1979, offers other products and services in categories such as insurance, financial planning, technology and employee benefits.
Similarly, the New Jersey Hospital Association sees medical errors as a hot-button issue for its members. For that reason, the NJHA last month signed a three-year endorsement agreement with Bridge Medical, a Solana Beach, Calif.-based health information technology firm that uses bar coding and other technologies to help hospitals reduce medication and transfusion errors.
"Our agenda starts out finding solutions to things that we know are keeping our members up at night," says Guy Evans, vice president of business development for NJHA Corporate Services, the division within the hospital association that handles its endorsement program.
The hospital association has about 30 promotional partnership arrangements. The commissions and fees generated by the association's for-profit subsidiary account for 54% of the NJHA's total revenue, says Jo Ann Morgano, director of marketing for NJHA Corporate Services.