Medical companies to launch e-commerce on Web

April 12, 2000

GE Medical Systems, Johnson & Johnson, Baxter International, Abbott Laboratories, and Medtronic hope to attract fellow medical equipment companies to a global healthcare exchange on the Internet.The five companies are equal partners that own and head

GE Medical Systems, Johnson & Johnson, Baxter International, Abbott Laboratories, and Medtronic hope to attract fellow medical equipment companies to a global healthcare exchange on the Internet.

The five companies are equal partners that own and head the yet-unnamed healthcare exchange. The company will be launched at the end of` September.

The online exchange will offer medical devices, imaging products, and accessories from a variety of manufacturers. Exchange creators say customers will probably be hospitals and acute-care clinics. They will be able to simultaneously order equipment and get clinical information about products.

Any medical company can join the exchange and display its wares on the site by paying a subscription and transaction fee, said Jim Thompson, the exchange’s spokesperson. The five companies heading the exchange will pay the same fees as newly recruited members.

Subscription and transaction fees will pay for operational costs of the site. Although both acknowledged that a business plan has already been drawn up, Thompson and Charlie Young, GE spokesperson, declined to say how much exchange members will pay.

“At this point we aren’t discussing that until we get it worked out a little bit more,” Young said.

GE has operated an online catalog for nearly two years. At the end of last year, GE added MR, CT, and ultrasound systems. The global exchange will eventually sell medical imaging equipment, Young said. There is enough customer interest in online shopping for medical companies to maintain individual Internet catalogs and be a member of the global healthcare exchange, Young said.

Before the exchange’s founders sat down to write their business plan for the new venture, they asked hospitals about ordering procedures. Some hospitals have to go through as many as 20 purchasing procedures before ordering equipment, according to Young.

“(The exchange) collapses that into one system,” he said.