After years of negotiating with vendors to purchase supplies for our busy ophthalmic surgery center, we finally found an easier and less stressful way to score great deals. Last year, we became a charter member of an ophthalmology-focused group purchasing organization (GPO) that specializes in procuring the items we need. The basic premise of the arrangement is the same as the models that service large hospitals or health systems: The GPO negotiates discounts on pricing with vendors thanks to the purchasing power leveraged by buying large volumes of supplies for its member facilities. Membership in the GPO is free for facilities, as the company makes its money through contracts with supply and equipment vendors, manufacturers and distributors.
The GPO currently has 96 ASC members across the country, at which approximately 500 physicians perform procedures. It also works with the Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society to recruit more member facilities, which the GPO saves an average of 12% to 20% of what they usually pay directly to vendors for the same supplies. Last year, our first as a member, the GPO saved us $100,000 on IOLs, MIGS devices, compounding pharmacy preparations and other physician preference items. So far this year, it’s saved us $60,000. The company is currently working to partner with another GPO to offer group pricing on commodity items such as gowns, gloves, needles and syringes. When that happens, we expect our annual savings to grow even more. But cost savings isn’t the only benefit we’re realizing from working with the GPO.