Premier closes in on big MRI purchase

Group purchasing organization Premier is in the final weeks of a massive group buy of MRI equipment that could total over $100 million. GE Medical Systems of Milwaukee and Siemens Medical Systems of Iselin, NJ, are beneficiaries of the purchasing, which

Group purchasing organization Premier is in the final weeks of a massive group buy of MRI equipment that could total over $100 million. GE Medical Systems of Milwaukee and Siemens Medical Systems of Iselin, NJ, are beneficiaries of the purchasing, which must be finalized by Dec. 31.

The group purchase is part of Premier's strategy of securing price discounts for its members by negotiating large sole-source or dual-source acquisitions. Premier members participating in the group buy must purchase from either GE or Siemens, according to Pam Parker, director of group buys for San Diego-based Premier.

Some 88 Premier members had asked to participate in the group purchase as of mid-December, and more may sign on by the time the deadline expires, Parker said. Premier expects that about 85% of those hospitals will end up buying equipment, bringing the total value of the sale to over $100 million. The deal will be the largest group buy in Premier's history, besting an $87 million group buy of GE and Philips cardiac and vascular x-ray rooms completed earlier this year.

The deal's large size is due to high interest among Premier members in new MRI technology, such as short-bore and open-bore magnets, Parker said. A large number of hospitals are replacing older magnets purchased seven or eight years ago, she said.

Siemens is offering all four of its MRI magnets through the group buy, according to Joe Camaratta, division manager for MRI at Siemens. The vendor expects most of the acquisitions to occur in December, as many Premier members put off their decision until they could view the latest technology at this month's Radiological Society of North America meeting.