A quick search of my blog tells me that I have mentioned the concept of Group Purchasing Organizations at least five other times already. However, given that it seems like half of the practices I visit don't take advantage of them, I guess I have to be more direct.
What is the problem? What is the concern? Why are practices not using these services? You don't have to be a large group, it costs you nothing
The AAP has clued into this, too, and has a survey that I implore folks to fill out:
AAP GPO SURVEY
Don't wait for the survey, though...check them out for yourself. Here are four different pediatric-focused programs I know. Call them, ask what they can do for you. It costs you nothing and could save you thousands. If you already belong to one...call another to see if you're getting the best deal. Some focus only on vaccines, others have a wide range of discounted products and services.
And fill out my poll to the left!
This is the kind of news that is too much at the cross section of the things that interest me that I can't pass up sharing it. Now, if only I can get Iron Maiden to do a flu shot PSA, I'll be set.
Onto business: I understand that the AAP has been gathering data about the pot-pourri of immunization purchasing organizations across the country, but I haven't seen any of the results, yet (ironically, the AAFP has public reviews of the GPOs). I get a lot of calls from folks looking for advice about the different groups and, worse, I keep meeting practices who use no purchasing group at all!
So, over the next few weeks, I am going to run some quick free promotion for the handful of groups I know. I can't recommend one over the others, as they each have strengths. Some have national vision, some are quite local. Some have education and practice management issues as part of their mission, others don't. I am simply going to highlight each of these folks and encourage practices to get in touch with each of them to see which one "clicks" for you.
First up, Main Street Vaccines. MSV is run by Dr. Allen Menken, one of PCC's long-time customers in NJ. He may not remember, but I first met him in 1991 or 1992 when he gave me a big lecture about why capitation was such a good idea (his concepts were right on; capitation as practiced by the insurance companies is another matter). I asked him to give me a little personal background and description of Main Street Vaccines, here it is:
I built Main Street Vaccines to be a highly centralized business operation with a very pragmatic goal....to try and save money for practicing docs by getting group prices and terms on vaccines.
Almost everything goes through my hands (I have someone doing payables, a bonded accountant drafts and sends out rebate checks and audits the books.) I am putting a part time field person on in January to service some of our accounts a little more intensely. There is no political agenda, no spin.
Almost all my communication is by internet. Newsletters such as you receive go out about quarterly or whenever something important happens. As you know, I just put us on Google (which incidentally has done amazingly little to date.)
I can only estimate the number of doctors we have, because we only register practices. There are over 1800 practices, some of them are solo, many of them are groups, some in 20-100 doctor range. Best gestimate is about 5000 doctors. We are heavy in NY, NJ, PA with spread into Mass, Maine, and the Southeast. We have a handfull of practices in very distant places and I am not really sure how we got them.
Our contracts are exclusively with Sanofi Pasteur and Merck. Members are encouraged to be on both contracts, but they can pick either/and/or. I am not delusional enough to think we can make policy for companies that size, but we have developed enough of a business relationship that I can at least get their ear and sometimes there minds and checkbooks. I have entertained other companies at times, but they can't match the product line, prices, terms, service.
We have a discount credit card processing service; a general office supply contract is in the works but will not be signed before Feb. 09. The main things that I think set us apart are a commitmentment to near instantaneous response and responsibility (someone is getting our prices within two busines days of the time they contact me), a lot of personal contact, a boots on the ground perspective (Plaza lives and dies by these contracts) and a great track record. I have a strongly held fiduciary responsibility to our members and never forget it. We have met or exeeded our annual rebate for six consecutive years. We work on a voluntary compliance basis. I have to remove less than 1% of our members for non-compliance annually and our member retention rate...outside of the practices I remove is over 99%, so we must be doing something right.
Thats about it. Just doing the best I can to get us big without getting us fat. Thanks for the help,
This was a good summary and I appreciate Dr. Menkin letting me use him as a test subject. After I write up the 4 or 5 other folks I know well, I'll place all of their contact info together.
To find out more details, contact Main Street Vacs here:
MAIN STREET VACCINES
15 SAUNDERS LANE
HACKETTSTOWN, NJ 07840
Phone: (908) 581-3931
FAX: (908) 979-4916
A few weeks ago, I did my first piece on the different group purchasing organizations focused on immunizations whom I know, Main Street Vaccines. My goal is to provide an introduction to each of the GPOs and assemble the results in a single place so that pediatricians don't have to scramble everywhere looking for the information. I don't know if any of the GPOs themselves know how many peds offices don't use immunization buying groups, but any number >0% scares me. I'd guess it's 20-30%, frankly.
Next on the block: Physicians' Alliance. I have known them for a long time and have had more interaction with them than any other GPO for two reasons: first, they are perhaps the largest of the groups; second, Bob Chalmers, who runs the show, really "gets it" and wakes up every morning thinking about one thing: how to get his customers more for less. I really believe that.
As with Dr. Menkin, I asked Bob to give us a little background...here it is:
Thanks for the opportunity to present Physicians’ Alliance. We are a non-profit group purchasing organization founded in 1992 by 5 Pediatricians worried about the rising cost of running a practice. From that start we have grown to where we now serve well over 3,000 practices across the country with a full range of agreements covering vaccines and many of the goods and services they use every day. Our web site, www.physiciansalliance.com shows the full list of agreements we currently offer. Membership in Physicians’ Alliance is FREE and members choose which of our dozens of agreement s the want to access.Physicians' Alliance is based on Georgia and they certainly have a lot of southern clients. I'm pretty sure they are in all 50 states, however.
I have been the Executive Director since 2003. Prior to that, I was a hospital and practice administrator for 24 years. I have tried to bring that experience to bear in adding agreements to increase the value of being a member of Physicians’ Alliance.
In addition to vaccine agreements with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi Pasteur and MedImmune (FluMist), we offer agreements for office supplies, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, med mal insurance, EMR’s, credit card fees, locums tenens docs, collections agencies, med waste, office equipment, various insurances and much more. We even offer what I call “perk” agreements- services that may help you recruit staff with no cost to the practice- credit union, oil changes, tires, car batteries and service and the like.
Our member practices range in size from solo practice to 200 providers. We can help them all. They are located across the U.S. We even had a doctor from India who wanted to join but we had to decline.
We offer rebates to members linked to our vaccine agreements and meeting certain net sales figures. This is in addition to manufacturer’s rebates they might receive and the prime pricing they do receive. So, not only is membership free, we save practices money and they may even receive money for being part of Physicians’ Alliance!
In addition to the opportunities to save money on vaccines and more, we offer educational opportunities for office staff at very low prices. Our purpose for being is to help them thrive!
We reach out to our members via our web site and regular blast faxes. These highlight any new vendor partners, special deals and other information our members need. We work with them to reinforce our mantra- Good Medicine Meets Good Business. Quality clinical care with good business decisions.
We really do exist to serve our members! Call toll free 866-348-9780 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or we can be of service to you.
I'd like to quickly continue my effort to introduce pediatricians to GPOs with this episode devoted to RVPI in Ohio.
If you're not in a GPO, you're missing. A LOT.
River Valley Physicians, Inc., (RVPI) is a local/regional group purchasing organization currently serving pediatric and other independent primary care practices in and around Greater Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky/Southeast Indiana. RVPI has partnered with community physicians since the 1980s. RVPI offers to its member practices not only top level discounts for Sanofi and Merck vaccines but a wide variety of other discounted products and services, including, but not limited to, med-surg supplies, office products and professional liability insurance. In addition, the organization provides educational programs for physicians and practice managers as well as consulting on practice management issues. According to Ed Freeman, RVPI Executive Director, the organization’s relatively small size versus the larger GPO’s enables it to provide a personal touch with member practices. Network members feel the freedom and easy access to call with questions concerning operational issues, government regulations, etc. RVPI might be described as part GPO, part MSO, and even part IPA (through the work of many practices in their network promoting quality and cost effective care in a relationship with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center). It does not consider itself as competing with typical nationwide GPOs; instead, RVPI expects its growth to come predominantly from the Tri-State area.
Edward N Freeman, FACMPE
River Valley Physicians Inc
4665 Cornell Road, Suite 103
Cincinnati, OH 45241
Phone: 513 475 6080
Fax: 513 475 6083