Contracting News November/December 2009

AHRMM Membership selects 2010 Board of Directors
The Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) announced its 2010 Board of Directors. Newly elected officials include: President-Elect William Stitt, CMRP, FAHRMM; Region 2 Representative John Brede, CMRP; Region 7 Representative Edward Lewis, CMRP; and Region 8 Representative Michael Hildebrandt, CMRP. The new board representatives will begin their terms on Jan. 1, 2010.

Premier introduces ProviderConnect
Charlotte, N.C.-based Premier Inc. announced a new program to bridge the gap between clinical and business processes by helping hospitals and health systems improve quality and outcomes, control costs and increase profitability. Premier Consulting Solutions’ (PCS) ProviderConnect™ program uses data from Premier’s Perspective® database, which includes clinical, financial and operational data, to help physicians provide quality care in a changing revenue and reimbursement landscape.

Broadlane appoints senior VP of product development and strategy
Dallas, Texas-based Broadlane Inc appointed Paul Carmody to the position of senior VP of product development and strategy. He will lead Broadlane’s new product development and launch initiatives and work to expand the company’s cost-management offerings.

VHA Mountain States appoints O’Hara as VP market mgmt, business development
Irving, Texas-based VHA Inc. appointed Gene O’Hara as VP of market management and business development for its VHA Mountain States (Denver, Colo.) regional office, where he will provide overall support and implementation for VHA strategies and assist in developing new member services for the region. O’Hara most recently served as CEO of Banner Health’s (Phoenix, Ariz.) North Colorado Medical Center (Greeley, Colo.).

Senate confirms Regina Benjamin as Surgeon General
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, D.C.) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Regina Benjamin as Surgeon General. Benjamin is founder and CEO of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic (Bayou La Batre, Ala.). She is the immediate past-chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, and previously served as associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. In 2002, she became president of the Medical Association of the state of Alabama, making her the first African American woman to be president of a state medical society in the United States.

HCA names Bracken to head board of directors
Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Inc named Richard M. Bracken as chairman of the board of directors, effective Dec. 15, 2009. He will replace Jack O. Bovender Jr., who will retire from the company, effective that same date. Bracken has served as president and CEO of HCA since Jan. 1, 2009. Also, CFO and executive VP R. Milton Johnson was elected to the board of directors, effective Dec. 15, 2009.

Letter to the Editor
Your editorial, “GPOs in the court of public opinion … again,” (Sept./Oct. 2009 Journal of Healthcare Contracting) resurrects old and unfounded claims against healthcare group purchasing organizations (GPOs). Not only are GPOs among the most transparent and ethical organizations in health care, I am not aware of any industry that subjects itself to comparable public transparency. For example, GPOs endorse the Physician Payments Sunshine Act and related transparency legislation being proposed in the Senate Finance Committee. Leading GPOs strongly support the kind of disclosure and transparency that will bring about practical improvement in the U.S. healthcare supply chain. Far from opposing this increased disclosure, GPOs have been consistently supportive of the very transparency that Dr. Sethi recognizes as essential.

In 2005, the leading GPOs voluntarily adopted a comprehensive program to ensure ethical business practices. Its members participate in the Healthcare Group Purchasing Industry Initiative (HGPII), which requires GPOs to pledge adherence to six core ethical principles, to report annually on implementation of these principles by using an Annual Accountability Questionnaire, and to participate in an Annual Best Practices Forum to share best ethical and business conduct practices with other GPOs and with representatives from government and other organizations. To find out more, go to HGPII’s Web site, www.HealthcareGPOII.com.

GPOs have a long record of success in keeping healthcare costs low while preserving service quality. Two recent studies (Schneller, Goldenberg/King) found that GPOs save the healthcare industry billions of dollars annually. Another recent study by Lawton Burns, Wharton School of Business, and funded by the National Science Foundation, found that hospital material managers strongly believe the system is working. Quite simply, there is an abundance of easily accessible data and information that demonstrates the extraordinary cost-saving and quality improvement measures achieved by GPOs for their members. For additional information on how GPOs reduce healthcare costs, visit http://www.GPOsSaveMoney.org.

Dr. Sethi has had three years to further research his subject, but as far as we know has never once contacted a GPO or a hospital to better inform himself about the business practices and operations of the healthcare supply chain. Had he done so, we are confident that his book’s conclusions would be radically different. Perhaps he would have even shared our conviction that GPOs today are the integrity anchor of the healthcare supply chain and create enormous value for participating providers, patients and U.S. taxpayers.

Dick Bednar, HGPII Coordinator

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