A Medical Device Daily

Oconee Medical Center (Seneca, South Carolina), a 160-bed hospital expected to realize nearly $1 million in annualized supply chain savings as a result of joining the Premier (San Diego) healthcare alliance and the WNC Health Network (WNCHN).

The savings are the result of simply converting to Premier contracts for supplies the hospital was already using. The contract conversions began February 1.

"These savings could not come at a better time," said Oconee CFO Greg Scarbrough. "We are facing the most challenging economic times in decades and in that environment we will be opening a new 155-bed tower later this year. With that opening will come new expenses. We need every single savings we can find."

WNCHN Vice President of Member Services Tim Bugg said, "Oconee's savings definitely show the power of aggregation. Savings are about 50/50 between Premier contracts and WNCHN's ability to get the hospital to top tiers for almost all contracts."

As Oconee began to review its supply chain options in 2008, it was drawn to the potential for savings presented by the Premier/WNCHN model. Several nearby hospitals were already enjoying access to Premier's highest contract tiers through membership in both organizations.

Oconee Director of Materials Management Jerry Nalley said, "Once we saw all the possibilities for savings, it made our decision easier, and we haven't been disappointed. With the savings we're experiencing by simply signing new agreements on existing contracts, we are pleased with our decision and happy with the conversion process. We are definitely pleased."

Nalley cited another reason behind Oconee's choice. "Membership in WNCHN also offers us regional collaborative opportunities from a networking standpoint. Most of the hospitals around us are WNCHN members so we're able to learn from their experience. That's a great combination – saving money and learning from our peers."

In other agreements and contracts news, SynCare (Indianapolis) reported that it was awarded a contract to conduct telephonic health risk assessments for HealthCare USA (Bethesda, Maryland) members in Missouri. HealthCare USA engaged SynCare to conduct the assessments and to assist in moving membership into appropriate case management programs.

HealthCare USA is a MO HealthNet Managed Care health plan serving more than 180,000 Medicaid and SCHIP members.

This contract enables SynCare to expand operations into Missouri as well as grow corporate capacity in Indiana, it said.

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