GE Healthcare, the $19 billion healthcare arm of General Electric Co., is pushing further into B2B ecommerce.
Four years ago GE Healthcare, a manufacturer and distributor of equipment used in medical imaging and monitoring, bio-manufacturing, and cell and gene therapy technologies, launched GE Healthcare Service Shop as a log-in portal for hospitals and others to order spare and replacement parts.
Now the company has upgraded its GE Healthcare Service Shop with more product inventory and such website features as advanced site search and faster online parts reordering. Going forward, GE Healthcare Services Shop also will begin to carry medical equipment parts from other companies. The updates are all part of an ongoing effort to bring more ecommerce technology into healthcare purchasing by hospitals and health systems and to make the buying experience more “Amazon-like,” says Tim Erickson, GE Healthcare’s general manager of global asset returns and ecommerce.
Ramping up for more online buying
“We’re just scaling up,” he says. GE Healthcare is adding ecommerce tools and programs now because, as soon as 2022, hospitals in North America will be purchasing as much as 14.5% of all services, parts and devices online, the company says.
Hospitals in the United States on average spend $3.8 million annually on supply expenses, says the Business School Alliance for Health Management. Given that 6,210 hospitals are operating in the U.S., total annual spending on healthcare supplies would mean hospitals collectively spend about $23.60 billion annually. Factoring in GE Healthcare’s projection of ecommerce accounting for as much as 14.5% of spending by 2022 would result in about $3.42 billion in annual online purchasing by hospitals.
At GE Healthcare, the ramp-up for more ecommerce will bring “a more business-to-consumer experience to business-to-business buying,” Erickson says.
Saving hospitals time
GE Healthcare isn’t breaking out ecommerce sales. But over the past four years, customers ordering parts online instead of over the phone have saved 300,000 minutes, the company says. Over 730,000 products have been sold on GE Healthcare Service Shop, GE says.
GE Healthcare Service Shop, which runs on an SAP Hybris ecommerce platform, currently carries an online inventory valued at $1.5 billion, representing 489,000 parts numbers, GE says.
Hospitals and other customers can now purchase products from 18 categories ranging from anesthesia and MRI to patient monitoring and X-rays. GE Healthcare Service Shop ships out about 6,000 products daily with a 96% on-time delivery rate, GE says. In some cases, GE Healthcare completes delivery as soon as eight hours after a customer places an order.
The updated site search tool on GE Healthcare Service Shop lets customers search by part number, type of equipment, or keyword. Other new and updated ecommerce tools allow online buyers to view daily deals, check parts availability instantly, and track delivery status. The updated ecommerce site was also designed to better integrate with a hospital’s supply chain and enterprise resource planning systems, resulting in faster reordering by customers, the company says. That can enable customers to operate with leaner inventory levels as they quickly reorder supplies as they need them, it adds. “We think more of things as being just in time,” Erickson says.
Online products from multiple manufacturers
Today GE Health sells mainly its own parts. But by expanding B2B ecommerce and adding on more website upgrades, GE Health aims to diversify and sell more parts online from other healthcare equipment manufacturers. “Customers want an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) who can supply multi-vendor support,” Erickson says. “The increased inventory of multi-vendor parts available through Service Shop is another step in helping meet that need.”
GE Health carries products from other manufacturers including Philips, Siemens and Toshiba on GE Healthcare Services Shop, with more products from other medical device makers to come, GE says. “The increased inventory of multi-vendor parts available on Service Shop helps providers focus on patient care by ordering OEM and multi-vendor parts where and when they are needed,” says Rob Reilly, GE Health’s vice president and general manager, Canada and U.S. Service.
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