On Course

Amerinet holds first national member conference

Amerinet convened its recent Member Conference in Las Vegas, firm in its conviction to refocus on its primary healthcare markets. At the same time, the St. Louis-based purchasing group used the meeting to educate its members and vendors on a number of programs designed to expand its market reach.

The Las Vegas meeting in May was the first national Member Conference in the group’s history. Prior to this year, Amerinet held a West and an East Conference, in addition to a Suppliers Conference. All told, 750 members and 700 suppliers (in 340 booths) attended the conference. The conference featured a reverse trade show, in which suppliers and members called on Amerinet staffers; and a traditional trade show, in which members called on vendors’ booths.

The GPO also recognized the winners of the first-ever Amerinet Healthcare Achievement Awards, recognizing members who exhibit excellence, and excel in reducing healthcare costs and improving quality. Members’ performance was recognized in the following areas: financial and operational improvements, quality/patient care delivery, supply chain/data management, and community impact.

Annual report
Amerinet President and CEO Todd Ebert reported that hospital membership in the purchasing group climbed in 2008 to 2,347 members, up from 2,231 members the year before. In the long-term-care market, Amerinet gained 882 members, to 3,497. Surgery-center membership grew to 1,919 members (from 1,769 members in 2007), while the number of clinics participating grew to 12,045 in 2008, up from 9,933 in 2007. In addition, Amerinet has 2,932 hospital-based-physician members. Following are initiatives discussed at the Conference.

Amerinet Quality Solutions. Launched in March 2009, Amerinet Quality Solutions is a menu of tools and resources focused on helping facilities lower costs while enhancing quality and patient safety. Heading up the initiative is Holly Hampe, who joined Amerinet in December 2008 as director of quality and safety. Included in Quality Solutions are:

  • A contract portfolio of products and services related to quality and patient safety, including wound care, pressure reduction products, medication safety systems, and infection control products.
  • Amerinet QualityScore, an onsite quality and regulatory compliance assessment focusing on policies, procedures, patient safety and quality.
  • Amerinet QualityTouch, a suite of information and tools (including a repository of leading healthcare facilities’ practice protocols) to help members meet quality performance goals.

Supply-chain benchmarking. In July 2008, Amerinet formed a strategic partnership with SCMetrixTM, which allows Amerinet members to benchmark their supply chain performance against that of other facilities of similar size, scope of service, patient acuity and geographic location. SCMetrix is the benchmarking and performance measurement tool debuted in 2007 by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in partnership with the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM). Amerinet serves as a group administrator, helping member hospitals report data to SCMetrix for inclusion in aggregate benchmarks.

Amerinet Prestige. Designed to deliver best pricing to Amerinet’s largest health systems, and then to extend that pricing to other members, the Prestige program has agreements with Cardinal Health (generic pharmaceuticals); Fukuda Denshi (patient monitoring products for bedside, transport, central stations and telemetry); Philips (patient monitoring and resuscitation products, including defibrillators and automated external defibrillators); Sage Products (prepackaged washcloths, waterless bathing products, oral hygiene toothettes and suction systems, and a preoperative skin prep in a full-size cloth); Westmed (anesthesia breathing circuits and masks); and Office Depot.

Surgery Center Solutions. Launched in March 2009, the program offers a menu of tools and resources targeted exclusively at ambulatory surgery centers. The GPO signed an agreement with the Chicago-based Ambulatory Surgery Center Association to serve as the sole-source purchasing agent for its members. The program includes:

  • A partnership with preferred distributors Owens & Minor and Henry Schein.
  • Savings on pharmacy purchases through an Amerinet-authorized wholesaler.
  • Member-focused, “voice of the customer” communications, encouraging feedback in developing programs and services and education through Inquisit, Amerinet’s education division.

GreenCare Initiative. Amerinet reports that it offers 34,000 green purchasing options, whose advantages include energy efficiency, waste reduction, mercury alternatives and recycling, package efficiency, and products that can be recycled or composted. The products are listed on the member resources section of the GPO’s Web site.

Executive Briefing series. In the past year, Amerinet conducted several executive briefings, which consisted of surveying key stakeholders, conducting roundtable discussions, and publishing a series of white papers. Topics included: quality and patient safety, building a high-performance workforce, and hiring the right person the first time.

Alliance for Financial Efficiency. Amerinet announced that it had created “an alliance of market-leading companies providing best-of-class revenue cycle and financial performance solutions” for hospitals. Participating companies are Craneware Inc., Orlando, Fla; and Perot Systems, Plano, Texas. The Alliance’s software, services and support are said to focus on scheduling, pre-registration, patient access and estimates, charge capture, coding, utilization, collection, accounts receivable management and remittance processing. Supply management solutions include a pharmacy supply application, which connects siloed pharmaceutical purchasing and billing information for what is said to be improved charge capture, pricing and cost management.

Clinical specialists
The GPO reported that its “clinical specialist” program has gained steam over the past year. Last year, the organization had announced its intention of appointing as many as 50 clinical specialists to call on hospital members in the pharmacy, lab, dietary departments and other specialized areas. At press time, 37 professionals were in the field working with members on contracting issues in pharmacy, lab, imaging, nutrition, construction, executive services, med/surg products and equipment, and physician-preference items.

“The focus for our customer-facing teams is on delivering integrated solutions for higher medical outcomes, higher economic value, and improved healthcare worker safety/quality,” said a spokesman. “We made significant progress with our Integrated Growth Plan. Tactical teams were set up, and plans have been developed and implemented to drive our key growth initiatives … The sales and specialist teams are highly integrated into cross-functional teams throughout our organization that are working on providing superior solutions for our members.”