E-MEDICINE: Tenet, Columbia Sell Medical Supplies Online
Tenet Healthcare and Columbia/HCA, two of the nation's largest purchasers of medical supplies, are now involved in separate ventures to sell such supplies online, hoping to make their own purchasing more efficient and parlay their buying power into a new business. Tenet announced yesterday that it will partner with Chemdex Corp., an online chemical and lab equipment supplier, to form a company that will sell medical supplies over the Internet to hospitals and physicians. Tenet will own 76% of the as-yet-unnamed company, which will open for business in February or March (Bloomberg News/Los Angeles Times, 12/14). Columbia, meanwhile, has agreed to invest as much as $40 million in a new company that will use the Web to link sellers with purchasers of medical goods. Columbia will also be the first customer for the firm, called empactHealth.com. Hospitals visiting the empactHealth site will be able to compare prices in online catalogs and use electronic invoices and purchase orders, the Nashville Tennessean reports today. The company will charge access and transaction fees to both suppliers and buyers.
Ultimately, online buying is expected to save hospitals money by making the purchasing process more efficient than paper-based systems; the chief obstacle so far has been bringing together large buyers with suppliers, said empactHealth's CEO (Snider, Tennessean, 12/14). But the buying power of Tenet and Columbia -- each of which accounts for about $3 billion in medical supply purchases annually -- should power both of these online ventures, generating purchase volume and attracting suppliers to the site (Bloomberg News/Los Angeles Times, 12/14).