No firm starting date as competitive group emergesThe large group of medical equipment and products companies that make up the Global Health Care Exchange still plan to go online sometime this fall but have put back the date. They hope to reach 40 members before then.
Meanwhile, a competing ventureThe New Health Exchangeis just moving into its office space in suburban Minneapolis, and could not be reached for comment. Whereas manufacturers dominate Global, New Health is so far made up primarily of distributors, including AmeriSource, Cardinal Health, Fisher Scientific, and McKessonHBOC.
The Global Health Care Exchange was formed last spring by five of the largest healthcare suppliers: Johnson & Johnson, GE Medical Systems, Baxter International, Abbott Laboratories, and Medtronic (SCAN 4/12/00). When it is up and running, the Web site will offer online ordering with customer-directed distribution, online inquiry about order status, online order confirmation, and product catalogs.
Members will pay an annual subscription fee proportional to their annual revenue. Globals general manager Mike Mahoney wouldnt say what the fees will be. The group expects its customers will mostly be hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
The most important reason why the exchange will be valuable is that it is open and equal to the manufacturers, Mahoney said. Each will achieve the same benefits.
Customers will be able to search by product, manufacturer, or product ID number for price status and availability, and be connected to a products supplier. In addition, Global will offer links to suppliers Web sites, Mahoney said.
Global will not get into pricing and will not interfere with hospitals relationships with group purchasing organizations. Mahoney said pricing would raise antitrust issues, and that it was important for the exchange to remain open and neutral.