Hospital group signs with Emergis for e-commerce work

MONTREAL — BCE Emergis has renewed a five-year agreement with CareNET Services Inc. to provide 1,600 medical suppliers and 287 member hospitals with messaging and

e-commerce tools that lower distribution and handling costs, according to BCE.

The contract, valued at just under $10 million over the five years, reduces costs through mailbox and automated deliveries from suppliers to hospitals, according to Herb Martin, director of e-commerce at BCE Emergis and CareNet manager at BCE.

“”Many studies have shown the cost to generate a purchase order is between $10 and $50 depending on the industry,”” he said. “”We offer a more accurate alternative with no errors. If there is a discrepancy, it is reported back electronically to the hospital.””

BCE Emergis has held the contract since 1990, when CareNet was established by a group of Canadian hospitals and suppliers with the goal of reducing the cost of supply chain management.

But it wasn’t an automatic extension as the contract was put out for tender, according to Craig Harris, director of business development for BCE Emergis’ E-business unit.

“”It reinforces CareNet’s commitment to our technology. They’re also creating a strategic planning committee to discuss their e-commerce direction.””

The initiative also connects the different partners electronically inside the supply chain.

CareNet represents about 45 per cent of all Canadian hospitals and close to 95 per cent of all e-commerce in the hospital system, according to Martin, who noted that over 50 per cent of Canadian hospitals are not involved in e-commerce.

“”A good example is British Columbia, which is undergoing a regionalization of the health-care system which will take time.””

Ten hospitals and 10 suppliers are elected to the board of directors of CareNET which decides how they want the network to proceed. Two of the hospitals and suppliers make up the executive committee which meets every month.

The annual dues for CareNet members are $250 which funds such things as user group meetings and the hosting of the CareNet Web site.

The contract extension follows the launch last month of a new e-commerce supply chain by Medbuy that will use BCE Emergis as a single transaction gateway between hospital and suppliers.

Medbuy is a national group purchasing organization which is part of CareNET and represents some of the largest hospitals in Canada.

It has reached agreements with strategic partners to supply a central order management and reporting application and a single gateway for all transactions and access to e-commerce services.

The partners will collaborate to provide an integrated supply chain management solution for all Medbuy hospitals, whose annual contract business exceeded $240 million last year from suppliers ranging from dietary, pharmaceutical and office supply companies.

By leveraging the strengths of its partnerships, “”Medbuy is helping its member health care providers drive efficiencies and save money,”” said Rick Cochrane, Medbuy president and CEO. “”Using online supply chain management solutions increases efficiencies and enables Medbuy hospitals to focus on their true priority: patient care.””

While invoicing and payment functionality is not part of BCE’s contract extension with CareNET, it could eventually become part of the initiative, said Harris.

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