Dealers target group purchasing

February 13, 1991

Medical equipment and film vendors could benefit from improvedcoordination of their dealer efforts as the trend to group purchasingamong U.S. hospitals accelerates, said Jenny Broadaway, presidentof the Independent X-ray Dealers Association (IX-rda) of

Medical equipment and film vendors could benefit from improvedcoordination of their dealer efforts as the trend to group purchasingamong U.S. hospitals accelerates, said Jenny Broadaway, presidentof the Independent X-ray Dealers Association (IX-rda) of Chicago.Broadaway's dealership is Medical Imaging Services of Little Rock,AR.

Group purchasing has taken the health-care industry by stormover the last several years, and there is a risk that independentdealers could be bypassed in the process, she said.

"There are very few major (medical) institutions thatare not members of one to five national purchasing groups,"she said.

Hospital buyers aren't just looking for volume discounts, however.They also want long-term, personal relationships with their suppliers.Proper coordination of dealer networks can fulfill the requirementsof national hospital chains and group-purchasing organizations,while maintaining that personal touch, Broadaway said.

Close and personal attention to customer needs is a naturalstrength of the independent dealer. Such dealers' existence dependson established hospital relationships, she said.

"The independent dealer's survival is based on performanceand doing a little better. This requires a personal attitude,not a cold, corporate face," she said.

IX-rda, a 21-year-old nonprofit association, initiated an effortto improve communications between its members and film and equipmentvendors following its merger with National Imaging Distributors(NID) in November, Broadaway said.

The smaller NID association was formed less than a year agoin an attempt to address the group-purchasing issue. NID eventuallydecided that this and other issues of concern could be dealt withbetter within an expanded IX-rda. The merger boosted IX-rda'smembership by 20% to a total of 60 dealers, she said.

As a nonprofit association, IX-rda cannot negotiate priceswith national purchasing groups. But it can coordinate the effortof individual dealers and educate group purchasing organizationsabout the benefits of working with dealers, she said.

Medical imaging equipment and film vendors often leave theirdealers out of special efforts to approach the national hospitalgroups. IX-rda has formed a vendor-relations committee to remedythis situation, Broadaway said.

"Often, our manufacturers will develop some sort of programwithout any exchange of information with the dealers, who areultimately the ones who have to facilitate that program. We needmore of a dialogue. The vendors have been receptive and enthusiasticabout this effort," she said.

A major goal of IX-rda's vendor-relations effort is to helpshape joint approaches to national hospital groups and group purchasingorganizations, she said.

"Our vendor-relations effort will help our profitabilityand the profitability of manufacturers, while providing betterservice for customers," Broadaway said.