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Group Purchasing Organizations: Pilot Study Suggests Large Buying Groups Do Not Always Offer Hospitals Lower Prices

GAO-02-690T Published: Apr 30, 2002. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2002.
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This testimony discusses group purchasing organizations (GPO) for medical devices and supplies used in hospitals. By pooling the purchases of their member hospitals, these specialized firms negotiate lower prices from vendors. GAO found that a hospital's use of a GPO contract did not guarantee that the hospital saved money: GPOs' prices were not always lower and were often higher than prices paid by hospitals negotiating directly with vendors. GAO studied price savings with respect to: (1) whether hospitals using GPO contracts received better prices than hospitals that did their own contracting, (2) the size of the hospital, and (3) size of the GPO. This data raises questions about whether GPOs, specially large GPOs, achieve consistent price savings.

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