Published 9/1/2009
Maureen Leahy

Leverage your buying power to control costs

AAOS Group Purchasing Plan provides cost and time savings

Is your practice feeling the pinch of the nation’s economic downturn? The AAOS Group Purchasing Program just may be the silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud.

Established in February 2007, the AAOS Group Purchasing Program, powered by eSurg Corp., can save your practice time and money on the supplies you use most. AAOS members have immediate access to nationally negotiated contract prices on quality brand-name supplies. As a result, purchasing from the single-source provider can mean one-stop shopping—and savings—on a comprehensive range of medical, surgical, pharmaceutical, and office supplies (Table 1). Furthermore, AAOS members receive an additional 2 percent discount on prices compared to nonmembers.

Risk-free rewards
With the AAOS Group Purchasing Program, practices of all sizes, including those that use several vendors, can cash in on the savings. There are no up-front signing costs, annual participation fees, or minimum annual purchase requirements. In most cases, even delivery is free.

Gallagher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, Altus, Okla., heard about the program through another practice in the area. Eager to learn more, they took advantage of the Customized Savings Analysis (CSA), a free service that determines the amount of savings a practice can expect. Gallagher learned they could save 20 percent on supplies by purchasing them through the program.

“We’ve been using the service for about a year now and are very pleased. We are realizing quite a big savings over what we had been spending with our other provider,” said office manager Maria Valdez.

Lower prices just the beginning
Ms. Valdez also appreciates the program’s user-friendly Internet-based ordering system and attentive customer service.

“It is very easy for me to find the products I’m looking for; if I can’t find something, I simply call eSurg and my customer service representative does it for me. In the past, I had to page through a big catalog to find items, and the prices were not listed,” she said.

“If an ordered item is out of stock, my representative from eSurg always contacts me to let me know. Normal delivery is usually one to two days, but I’ve never had to wait longer than a couple of days for an [out-of-stock] item. I am very pleased with the customer service we receive,” said Ms. Valdez.

When asked if she would recommend the program to other practices, she responded, “Absolutely!”

Christina Mandia, a physician’s assistant with Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, which has offices in both New York City and Cos Cob, Conn., agrees.

“The EZ Orders Manager is phenomenal,” said Ms. Mandia. “You just click on the items you always order, add the amount of each item you need, and indicate the office where you want it sent.

“This has made my life so much easier,” said Ms. Mandia.

The office now orders exam room table paper, gloves, and all their injectables, bandages, and casting materials through the AAOS Group Purchasing Program, and is gradually consolidating all medical supply purchases under the program. As a result, Plancher realized a $19,000 savings on medical supplies in 2008.

“The people at eSurg are so accommodating and easy to work with. If you have an issue, simply bring it to their attention and it is resolved within 24 hours. I love this system. We learned about it by referral, and in turn, I have recommended it to several other practices,” Ms. Mandia said.

Customer commitment
John Tribble, director of sales and marketing for eSurg, is not surprised by the program’s popularity among orthopaedic practices.

“The AAOS is eSurg’s best and largest partner to date,” said Mr. Tribble. “The number of offices participating in the program is up 51 percent since last year.

“We represent hundreds of different manufacturers and distribute all of their products, selling everything from bandages and latex gloves to injectables and capital equipment. We are known for having the best pricing in the industry without needing to negotiate,” he continued. “We have more than 50,000 products on our Web site, but we can source virtually everything, as long as the manufacturer is interested in selling through a distributor.”

What makes this program unique?
With other companies, the sales representative can manipulate prices to maximize profit, according to Mr. Tribble. “With eSurg, it is one price for every AAOS member, regardless of practice size. That’s always been our philosophy; we don’t allow sales reps to control pricing. If a product isn’t competitively priced, we’ll reduce the price for all AAOS members. Whether you are a 2-physician or 20-physician practice, the prices are the same,” he said.

Another benefit that members appreciate is that eSurg pays the Academy a royalty based on the program’s sales volume. “We’ve had customers tell us, ‘if the AAOS supports it, I want to give it a try’ or ‘if it’s good for the Academy, I want to support it, because in the long run it will be good for me.’ We’ve found that an endorsement from the AAOS is often stronger than an endorsement from other associations,” Mr. Tribble said.

See whether the AAOS Group Purchasing Program can help your practice save. Visit www.aaos.org/esurg

Maureen Leahy is assistant managing editor for AAOS Now. She can be reached at leahy@aaos.org