What You Need to Know About Hospital Administrators’ Purchasing Behaviors
By Molly Simpson

Large hospital systems are always in flux. Therefore, it is important to keep tabs on who is involved with purchasing decisions and what they look for during this process.

In February 2018, InCrowd set out to paint the above picture. We sent a 6-minute MicroSurvey to 20 physicians and 21 purchasing managers who work at hospitals with at least 200 beds. These stakeholders had to work in a health system or integrated delivery network (IDN), an independent community hospital, an academic hospital, or an accountable care organization (ACO). They also had to be the final purchasing decision maker for medical devices, equipment, and supplies at their hospital, or part of a decision-making team.

We did a similar survey in May 2017, where we asked 85 nurses and 123 surgeons about sales practices they encounter, what they look for, and how it fits into the procurement process of their practice setting.

Based on our 2018 survey of large hospital physicians and purchasing managers, the vast majority are considering surgical and diagnostic devices, closely followed by imaging equipment.

And most large-scale equipment purchasing decisions are being made with input from both the appropriate physicians/healthcare professionals and centralized purchasing managers, including committees. This echoes a 2017 Bain & Company report that found that, “more than 80% of surgeons and procurement officers say they work in collaborative partnerships to purchase medical equipment.”

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In our study, the $10,000 price tag presented an interesting tipping point where purchasing behaviors began to drastically change:

  • Purchases were made much less frequently
  • More hospital stakeholders were involved in the process with multiple levels of approval required
  • Terms changed to long-term payment plans, with costs deferred over time

Beyond cost, the main barriers to large scale purchasing for hospitals were:

  • Long-term value of equipment
  • Product standardization
  • Ease of use and staff requirements for training
  • Limitations on physical space and storage

One physician said they wanted to “limit time required taken from direct patient care.” Another physician commented that their priority was “ensuring that the purchase fits in our long term plans.”
We also asked physicians and purchasing managers what they thought medical device manufacturers could do to make the purchasing process easier. These were their top recommendations:

  • Provide greater flexibility and transparency with pricing options
  • Communicate clearly about product specifications and support
  • Make equipment more standardized for use throughout the hospital system


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