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Decentralize out of control purchasing to now controlled centralized purchasing

"Bellwether has eliminated the paper in purchasing and allowed us go from decentralized out of control purchasing to centralized purchasing and invoice processing. This has reduced cost and provided us a clear picture of accruals."

Ben Belflower, Reporting & Analysis Manager, Aramark

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What Does the Digitization of Healthcare Mean for Purchasers?

Hospitals and doctor’s offices around the country are incorporating more and more technology into their practices from check-in procedures to the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of patients. Many of the advanced you see and read about are front-end technologies, but what about the back-end things necessary to run the business side of healthcare? Are those advancing as well?

We laugh at the old super computers that filled rooms or houses, but only had a fraction of the computing power as a modern day laptop or in some cases tablets and smartphones.  But today there are new super computers being built capable of crunching massive amounts of data. Do you remember the supercomputer developed by IBM called “Watson” that beat Jeapordy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter? Large-scale data analysis integrated into healthcare can help doctors track patient history, get real-time world-wide information on the latest treatments available for those conditions and the effectiveness of mediations.

It’s fairly common today to see a doctor walk into the room holding an iPad or other tablet from which to read patient charts and make notes, but the creation of apps has expanded the value of these devices in the room with patients. One example is an app that translates the spoken word. Doctors can ask patients about  life-threatening allergies and the app translates for the patient. This allows for better communication on the spot. It obviously won’t be as accurate as a native-language translator, but smaller offices may not have the budget to keep one on staff during all open hours or may not have a need until that person shows up for medical treatment who cannot speak any English. There are a whole host of apps available to aid the medical profession.

Connecting doctors with other doctors or their patients is another option technology opens the door to. https://www.doximity.com/ is a social network exclusive to physicians allowing them to collaborate and assist one another in difficult cases. Ever watch the medical TV drama “House”? Dr. House always seems to find the exact solution to the most difficult cases, but if you don’t have a real-life Dr. House, if such a physician exists, then this online interface can help with those hard to diagnose cases. Technology has also allowed doctors to connect to patients through online consultations saving time and money from another trip to the ER.

This is all very exciting for the patients visiting the hospitals and doctor offices, but what about the people responsible for providing all this technology among the usual things such as office supplies, rubber gloves, needles for shots, q-tips, etc. The purchaser! Some are right in line with the latest advances, but others are put on the back burner and dare we say, relegated to paper-based purchasing? Or maybe you’ve advanced to purchasing software, but have not made the change to cloud-based purchasing? In today’s time with rising healthcare costs, an uncertain future with the Affordable Care Act, and so many other unknowns, you would be wise to consider your own internal purchasing system. Cloud-based software is not just good for the patient, but it is good for the business too.

July 25, 2013
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BY Bellwether
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