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Regional health partnership forms group purchasing organization

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Members of the Allspire group purchasing organization can save time and money ordering bulk items, like band-aids, through their partnering. (Thinkstock)
Members of the Allspire group purchasing organization can save time and money ordering bulk items, like band-aids, through their partnering. (Thinkstock)

Allspire Health Partners, a group of regional health systems that joined together three years ago to seek clinical, research and economic best practices, has formed a group purchasing organization to manage members’ expenses.

The move by the group, which includes Lehigh Valley Health Network and Reading Health System, includes an exclusive agreement with a national GPO provider, HealthTrust, based in Brentwood, Tenn., that should help members increase buying power, improve efficiencies and save money.

The creation of the Allspire group purchasing organization is also expected to bring new jobs to the Lehigh Valley.

So far, Allspire Health Partners has been a virtual group, said Ed Dougherty, chief business development officer for Lehigh Valley Health Network. The creation of the GPO, he said, will lead to the eventual creation of a brick-and-mortar office, which will likely be located in the Lehigh Valley because of LVHN’s central location within the partnership’s geographic footprint.

Six to 12 staffers could be hired to maintain the GPO operation, Dougherty said.

The creation of the office, however, is in the future, he said.

“This is a highly complex transaction that will be closely managed,” Dougherty said. “There are hundreds of thousands of items in a health system’s supply chain. This will be a very deliberate process using the partnership … to start looking at bigger opportunities down the line.”

He said the first step will be forming teams to investigate different members’ best practices in purchasing to see what efficiencies can be found from which other members could benefit.

By joining the national GPO group, Dougherty said, Allspire members will benefit from its established partnerships while still maintaining control and flexibility on the local level.

Dougherty said the GPO will be a significant help to Allspire partners.

“Purchasing in health care is becoming an ever-increasing challenge,” he said. “The increased efficiency should ultimately result in cost savings.”

Dougherty described the organization as a very “behind the scenes” endeavor for the health systems that should be mostly invisible to patients.

“There might be a case where a provider used to wear gray gloves, but now they’re wearing blue gloves. That’s really it,” Dougherty said.

Other members of Allspire Health Partners:

• Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J.).

• Hackensack University Health Network (Hackensack, N.J.).

• Meridian Health (Neptune, N.J.).

• WellSpan Health (York).

Lancaster General Health, a seventh member of AllSpire, is not participating in the GPO.

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Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Reporter Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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