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Aurora Health Care signs multi-year agreement with Valify

BY Antoinette Alexander

 

FRISCO, Texas — Valify, a provider of purchased services intelligence software for the healthcare industry, has inked a multi-year agreement with Aurora Health Care, a not-for-profit Wisconsin-area health care provider that serves patients via its network of services and facilities, including its in-store QuickCare clinics.

Under the agreement, Valify will provide complete visibility into all purchased services spending by collecting, categorizing and benchmarking monthly non-labor data feeds from across the entire health system. Valify’s Purchased Services Intelligence solution will provide Aurora with access to all of the categorized data in an easy-to-use, clickable and searchable format to find and track savings opportunities. Valify will also provide Aurora with the ability to easily view its purchased services spend across each facility and identify opportunities to save through vendor standardization.

“We selected Valify as our strategic purchased services partner because their solution provides visibility at the category level across our entire health system,” said Kathy Capp, director of sourcing strategy at Aurora Health Care. “Their solution will help us identify, build and track our savings opportunities, which we will use to build a pro-active long-term work plan driven by opportunity size and achieve our savings goals.”
 

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New study examines the potential value proposition of retail clinics

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Retail health clinics are now a part of the health care landscape with the potential to become a much more powerful enabler of a “culture of health,” according to a recent report by Manatt Health, the health care division of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

The report, titled “Building a Culture of Health: The Value Proposition of Retail Clinics,” examines the potential value proposition of retail clinics. It was guided by an advisory committee, and informed by published research and interviews with 20 retail clinic experts and stakeholders.

According to the paper, prepared for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the number of retail clinic sites increased almost 900% between 2006 and 2014, from 200 to 1,800, and the number of visits increased sevenfold from approximately 1.5 million to 10.5 million in 2012, representing upwards of 2% of primary care encounters in the United States.

“Demand for convenient access to care for low-acuity, time-sensitive conditions or routine preventive services has been fueling clinic growth. The vast majority of clinic users reported that the primary purpose of their most recent clinic visit was the diagnosis and treatment of a new illness or symptom, followed by vaccinations and prescription renewals,” the report stated.

The report also noted that telehealth has the potential to reduce cost and improve both access to care for rural and underserved communities and support treatment of patients with acute and chronic conditions at retail clinics and beyond as live telehealth consults can be used to extend the scope of consultative, diagnosis and treatment service options.

Researchers noted, however, that there are several hurdles to overcome such as scope-of-practice rules that constrain services in many states and a lack of government reimbursement. Researchers noted, for example, that Medicare only covers reimbursement for telehealth in limited settings, and never in retail clinics.

“Retail clinics are businesses operating on thin margins, and like any other low-margin business, they must pay close attention to reimbursement for the services they provide and the direct and indirect revenue they generate for the retailer. And while retailers, health systems and payers recognize the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, most have not yet embraced initiatives that help improve population access to in-store offerings and public programs that address their non-clinical needs. These are weighty challenges; if retail clinics overcome them, they have the potential to become a much more powerful enabler of a Culture of Health,” the report stated.

 

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Online retailers expect to increase revenue by 17%

BY Dan Berthiaume

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — Retailers anticipate accelerated growth for 2015. According to a study from eBay Enterprise, an eBay Inc. company, 72% of more than 1,000 online retailers surveyed anticipate online revenue to increase by 17% in 2015.
 
Confidence in commerce infrastructure is also high, with 95% of respondents stating they are very or somewhat confident their e-commerce experience meets consumers’ needs and expectations.
 
Online engagement emerged as the top area to fuel growth in 2015 (33%) followed by global ecommerce expansion (23%), mobile commerce (22%), digital targeting (22%) and product innovation (22%). Retailers are also planning to experiment with brick and mortar innovation in 2015, with initial investment in in-store experiences (14%), global brick-and-mortar expansion (12%) and pop-up expansion (11%).
 
Twenty-eight percent of retailers of all sizes are afraid of new competitors entering the market, while large retailers prioritize the speed of innovation (25%), staffing (23%) and the risk of re-platforming (22%) as secondary concerns.
 
Retailers pointed to fast growing mid-sized and business-to-consumer organizations as driving the most innovation in the commerce space according to 51 and 55% of respondents, respectively. Large retailers ($50 million to $250 million in online revenue) define innovation as identifying new channels to engage consumers, while mid-sized retailers ($10 million to $50 million in online revenue) define innovation as engaging consumers across multiple channels.
 
Among those investing in the mobile arena, mobile device optimization (54%) and mobile application development (46%) emerged as new priorities of investment (vs. continued areas of investment). And of those investing in mobile commerce, 51% of respondents plan on building a unique Android application and 50% plan on building a unique iOS application.
 
Cloud is also an increasing focus for retailers with 26% of large scale retailers ($50 million to $250 million), claiming that the technology is critical to their company’s future growth. Additionally, 20% of large retailers claim that the cloud is the most important technology over other recent innovations.
 
In 2015, retailers plan on bringing ecommerce hosting (55%), inventory management (46%), marketing program management (40%) and CRM (40%) into cloud environments. Although cloud infrastructure is increasingly top of mind for retailers, top obstacles to adoption include security concerns (26%), shared resources (17%) and a lack of IT support staff (16%).
 
Forty-seven percent of respondents stated they’re prepared for global expansion, with 73% noting that they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to this initiative.
 
Despite being the second largest global economy, China emerges as the second priority for global shipping expansion and third priority for global e-commerce expansion and global brick and mortar expansion.
 
Thirty-nine percent of respondents stated that ecommerce localization was the top barrier to global expansion and 87% of respondents are very or somewhat concerned about the dilution of brand values and integrity when entering new markets.
 
Partners were highlighted as playing an important role in enabling localization with 45% of respondents enlisting technology partners that provide solutions, 41% working with services partners to help optimize the business and 41% working with channel partners to help distribute products across retail networks.
 
Recent negotiations surrounding the West Coast port closures have significantly impacted retailers’ strategic approach in 2015, with 43% recording delays in fulfilling consumer orders and 40% experiencing delays in available inventory.
 
These closures have created significant operational inefficiencies. Nearly a third of respondents stated they had to reroute inventory to the East Coast – 39% of respondents noted their primary fulfillment is on the West Coast and 42% indicated the majority of their consumers are located on the West Coast.
 
Staffing continues to be critical in enabling growth and a critical area of investment to fuel growth. Of those investing in staffing, 56% plan on investing in ecommerce and marketing professionals with anticipated hiring peaks in the second and third quarters in advance of holiday 2015. Additionally, 52% of respondents plan on investing in customer service staff, and 45% plan on investing in fulfillment staff.
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