Amerinets purchase of two technology companies is another sign of how group purchasing organizations are working to gain an edge in a highly competitive marketplace, according to industry observers.
The St. Louis-based company announced last week that it acquired DataBay Resources, a software developer specializing in revenue-enhancement and spend-management tools, and Inquisit, a provider of Internet-based healthcare-education programs.
I think GPOs view (diversification) as a growth strategy, said Curtis Rooney, president of the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association, an industry trade group in Washington.
Certainly the big boys do, and Amerinet wants to be competitive, he added.
Another company offering GPO services, MedAssets, recently announced its plans to launch an initial public offering, an effort that in part will fund its plans for diversification (Sept. 3, p. 12).
Rooneys assessment seemed to be confirmed by Amerinet President Todd Ebert, who said the purchases are part of the GPOs strategy to become a more aggressive marketplace player by expanding its services to hospitals.
As we continue to look at our strategy and efforts to differentiate ourselves in total-spend management, were looking to offer a variety of (new) services, Ebert said.
As it stands right now, Inquisit is an educational tool. But it has Internet-based technology, and that will provide us a vehicle to get information out to customers about clinical benchmarking that could ultimately save hospitals millions of dollars in healthcare mistakes, Ebert added.
The services, according to Ebert, will have both value-added elements and fee-for-service components.
It will depend on how deeply members want to access the services, but we think some will be of such value that they will be fee-based.
Both DataBay and Inquisit were acquired for an undisclosed amount from Amerinet Central, a Warrendale, Pa.-based shareholder in Amerinet.
The acquisitions also continue an effort by Amerinet to consolidate its ownership and services under a single organization.
In July 2006, Amerinet restructured ownership among its foundersregional GPOs Vector of Providence, R.I., and Amerinet Central, and integrated provider Intermountain Healthcare of Salt Lake City.