GPOs on the front lines of healthcare

By Khatereh Calleja, J.D.

By Khatereh Calleja, J.D.

Amidst an ever-changing healthcare landscape, one thing has remained constant: the value that healthcare group purchasing organizations (GPOs) provide to hospitals, other healthcare providers, and the patients they serve. Hospitals, nursing homes, physician practices, and other healthcare providers are constantly being asked to do more with less. And year after year, GPOs have found new and innovative ways to help providers save money while enhancing the quality of care they provide.

HSCA, which represents the nation’s leading healthcare GPOs, recently released its 2019 Annual Report detailing the impact of GPOs. It confirms what hospitals, healthcare providers, suppliers, and policymakers see every day: GPOs reduce healthcare costs; increase competition; drive transparency, visibility, and predictability; propel improvements to healthcare processes and systems; and add value to suppliers.

For example, GPOs developed policies and programs to help identify new innovative products and technologies and to make them available as quickly as possible, helping to increase efficiencies and improve clinical outcomes. One leading GPO helped source a new heart failure device that recently received FDA approval, helping to reduce readmission for patients with a history of congestive heart failure.

GPOs have been on the front lines of the drug shortage fight, working collaboratively with hospitals, physicians, manufacturers, distributors, and government agencies to ensure that hospitals and patients have access to the life-saving drugs they need.During an injectable narcotic shortage in 2018, GPOscalled on the DEAto temporarily adjust production quotas to allow other manufacturers to step in and produce medications. The DEA subsequently did lift the production quotas for certain manufacturers, an important step for mitigating potential shortages. GPOs also participated in a multi-stakeholder effort comprising leading healthcare provider organizations to develop policy proposals to help prevent and address drug shortages. The Drug Shortage Working Group presented initial policy recommendations at the FDA’s public hearing on drug shortages in November 2018.

To address cybersecurity threats, HSCA released key considerations for healthcare providers, medical device manufacturers and service providers to help protect patient health, privacy and safety. And in March 2019, HSCA submitted comments to the FDA on the management of cybersecurity in medical devices.

GPOs’ unique line of sight across the entire healthcare system means they are unparalleled in their ability to help providers anticipate and respond to rapid changes. In 2018, research conducted by supply chain experts at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania affirmed that hospitals are consistently – and overwhelmingly – satisfied with their GPOs.

As we look ahead to 2019 and beyond, HSCA and its members remain committed to helping hospitals and healthcare providers deliver the most effective and affordable care possible to the patients they serve.

Khatereh Calleja, J.D., is the president and CEO of Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA).