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Group Purchasing & Connect EMS Redline [Interview]

With only 5 weeks until Catalyst Redline Connect Conference we had a chance to sit down with Executive Director Steve Waldron and find out what GPOs are all about. We also find out what to expect at the conference in June.

What is group purchasing?

Even the best run EMS organizations do not have the time and energy to focus daily on whether or not they are receiving the best prices for products or services.  The buying cooperative/Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) exists to do all the upfront negotiating and controlling of pricing for the group.

The most successful GPOs are highly utilized by their members.  It is extremely important that members utilize all the opportunities offered by the GPO.  Taking advantage of current discounts provides immediate value, and it helps to deliver better discounts in the future.

How do you join a GPO?

Membership is easy, identify the opportunity and sign up. There may or may not be a membership fee involved, but depending on what you're looking for its very important you choose a GPO that services your  organization and will work with you one-on-one. Any GPO could take your membership fee and say  “here is your list of contracts,” but what's going to happen, you're probably not going to utilize the service and you'll want your money back.  Compare that to a GPO that does intensive education, communicates openly, and facilitates face-to-face connections, it’s a no-brainer.

Aside from the obvious discounts, what benefits do organizations receive from joining a group purchasing organization?

Most health care GPOs are focused on the collaboration/networking piece to coincide with their contractual opportunities.  Typically what develops are focus groups or committees that bring thought leaders together to discuss what their group needs and help drive the direction the GPO is going.   The committees are typically business owners, managers, and thought leaders, that discuss best practices and determine a way to deliver them to the benefit of the entire group.

What does EMS Redline do to help make that happen?

EMS Redline puts in the time and effort that EMS owners and managers don't have, to make sure we are securing the best possible pricing from the suppliers they use every day.   We focus on the pricing and buying structure for you. The added benefit is market competitive data on products and services, which allows an owner/manager to evaluate their current pricing and determine a course of action.

EMS Redline does more than just group purchasing, what other benefits do members of EMS redline receive?

When you join, I personally will work with you to identify your companies' needs and match them with the opportunities we have available. On going, EMS Redline is available to provide support, assist with connecting you with suppliers, provide quotes, and providing access to other members to ensure your experience with EMS Redline is beyond your expectations.

We've also become an extension of our suppliers marketing department. We communicate anything that's important to the members from the suppliers including, promotions, company information, group buys and more.  Because we have nurtured relationships with suppliers we are made aware of pricing changes before they hit market and we want to make sure members are aware of opportunities as quickly as possible.

What is Catalyst Redline Connect? Is it only for members?

The conference is open to anyone and we encourage anyone who can make the trip to come out. The conference is a great opportunity to get face-time with suppliers and make long-term connections that will help with your operations. We're offering educational opportunities focused on technology, business development and risk management.  Not to mention a chance to network with other EMS peers.

Why did EMS Redline feel the need to organize this conference?

The original intent was to make the connections between the suppliers and the membership.   We also identified the need to have other content that provides value to the conference.   People do not want to come to just see suppliers for 2 days, so we added more to the conference in the form of education tracks and opportunities to network.

What can attendees & vendors expect?

We hope that attendees have a “WOW” moment. The show may not be big, but it will offer access to all of our suppliers, where members will often discover how diverse our GPO is.  We are confident you'll find an opportunity out there you weren't expecting.

Steve Waldron is the current Executive Director of EMS Redline Association.  The Redline GPO was founded in February 2010 and Steve was hired in September 2010.  Steve’s tenure includes serving as the MRO Buyer for Amway Corporation and the Corporate Purchasing Manager for the Borgess Health System.  He has over 20 years of healthcare and manufacturing purchasing expertise.  He brings a thorough working knowledge of how medical GPO’s function and is applying those key principals to the EMS Industry.

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