1. Gelinas, Lillee RN, MSN

Article Content

The February issue of Nursing Management carried an article on the value of effective supply chain management ("Managing the healthcare supply chain," February 2005). The author correctly pointed out that the supply area holds significant opportunities for cost reduction and supply standardization. Reducing distribution and logistics costs are excellent starting points.


However, the author incorrectly described the connection between hospitals and group purchasing organizations (GPOs). Nearly every hospital in the United States has relationships with two or more GPOs, and hospitals voluntarily participate in GPO programs based on clinical and financial value. Only the GPOs owned by for-profit hospital companies can mandate participation or participation levels.


GPOs help hospitals address the issue of controlling costs without compromising care. Most GPOs work with hospitals to create programs that will drive physician involvement in supply chain activities and facilitate the introduction of new medical technologies, because GPOs know that introducing innovative medical technologies into the marketplace without increasing costs is key to improving healthcare.


Secondly, though the GPO environment has changed dramatically over the past 3 years, the article might lead readers to believe that the GPO marketplace is troubled. For example, the article implied that GPOs receive stock from suppliers, which isn't allowed under the codes-of-conduct standards adopted by the industry in early 2003.


As the author suggests, GPOs play a crucial role in healthcare, but that role is sometimes misunderstood or mischaracterized.


Lillee Gelinas, RN, MSN


Chief Nursing Officer, VHA, Inc.