ONLINE PURCHASING: Hospitals, E-Commerce Sites to Promote Uniform Codes
Hospital purchasing co-ops are joining forces with e-commerce companies to compel manufacturers and distributors to adopt uniform product codes for medical supplies, with an eye toward easing Internet transactions. Purchasing groups Consorta, Novation, and Premier -- which together manage more than $30 billion annually in medical supply buying for nearly 3,700 hospitals -- are banding together with Web sites Medibuy.com, EmpactHealth.com and Neoforma.com to create a set of standardized terms, product numbers and bar codes. The consortium expects to propose a common nomenclature by the third quarter. According to industry estimates, close to 60% of the medical supplies in the $80 billion market do not carry unique identifiers, making comparison shopping and efficient purchasing difficult, and the advent of the Internet will likely exacerbate the problem if not addressed. The "e-standards work group" is hoping to put their codes in place before nascent e-commerce exchanges develop incompatible systems (Hensley, Wall Street Journal, 6/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.