A Medical Device Daily

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC; Pittsburgh) and CombineNet (also Pittsburgh) have formed a joint venture, CombineMed, which is designed to lower costs and boost quality and innovation in healthcare sourcing.

The partners will commercialize a computerized sourcing model called Expressive Commerce, which directly connects suppliers of pharmaceuticals and medical/surgical equipment with healthcare providers to allow for more efficient negotiations.

In the inaugural Expressive Commerce event, which started in late January, UPMC and two other medical centers will use the system to purchase more than $1 billion in medical supplies.

“As a leader and innovator in healthcare, UPMC is constantly evaluating technologies and practices that bring excellence to our clinical and administrative operations,” said Chuck Bogosta, managing director of UPMC's office of Strategic Business Initiatives. “Our joint venture with CombineNet is a key part of our strategy to modernize the healthcare supply chain, cut costs and, most importantly, deliver better care to our patients.”

In Expressive Commerce, suppliers can submit any number of Expressive Proposals via a secure web site. Expressive Proposals are seller-prescribed, sealed proposals that are creative in nature and can include conditional facets like volume and market-share based discounts and rebates, differing payment terms, package offers and substitute items.

In other grants news:

• Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Eagan, Minnesota), with a team of long-term care organizations and software vendors, recently was awarded $1.2 million from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ; Washington).

Using a web-based software, the team will pilot e-prescribing with the use of electronic communication between facilities, pharmacies and physicians.

The 12-month study began Jan. 1 and is evaluating e-prescribing standards in the context of long-term care facilities and related workflow.

Four skilled nursing facilities are the object of the study. They represent typical long-term care settings and have a high usage of Medicare and Medicaid. To test the standards, the implementation of e-prescribing will be in three phases. Comparison studies will begin immediately upon completion of the project and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Baltimore) will receive a full report on the findings.

The team of providers, pharmacies and technology services joined forces to pilot this program. They include: Benedictine Health Systems, Preferred Choice Pharmacy, RNA EagleT, RxHub, Prime Therapeutics, Minnesota Department of Health and Achieve Healthcare Technology.

E-prescribing proposes to improve patient safety by checking prior prescription medication usage, reducing unnecessary therapies and making medication history available across healthcare organizations. Blue Cross said it became involved because of a strong interest in the value of quality care, particularly in the long-term care setting.

Encision (Boulder, Colorado), (West Columbia, South Carolina) has converted to its AEM technology to eliminate the patient safety risk of “stray energy burns” during laparoscopic surgery.

Stray electrosurgical burns are unintended internal burns that can occur during laparoscopy, a popular type of minimally invasive surgery. Complications such as bowel injury and serious infection can develop as a result of stray burns, the company said. AEM laparoscopic instruments from Encision have built-in “active electrode monitoring” technology that works during the procedure to prevent stray burns.

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