05 October 2000
The progress of e-procurement in the medical sector is lagging behind other industries, according to an insider.
Dominic Weiss, chief executive of medical disposables supplier Medcompany, speaking at the launch of the firm's e-procurement system, claimed that the petrochemicals, distribution, automotive and utilities industries were far more advanced on the issue.
He blamed the fragmented market and the specialist nature of the industry. "It's difficult for hospitals to adopt preferred suppliers and streamline systems when dealing with an array of surgeons, each of whom prefer different brands," he said. "Maverick buying is a problem."
Joe Walsh, associate director of operations at the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, said medical e-procurement presented unique problems. Half of e NHS procurement spending was for non-medical supplies and much of that might not be suitable for e-commerce, he said.
But other areas work well with e-commerce. "The pharmaceutical industry is very IT-advanced," Walsh said. In addition, £500 million of NHS Logistics Agency spend uses a sophisticated e-procurement solution.
Walsh added: "Like European health services, the NHS is piloting a number of e-commerce solutions in individual hospitals. We're getting the ball rolling."