Novation App for iPhone, iPad Helps Hospitals Manage Supply Chain

Contracting service company Novation is using MicroStrategy's mobile analytics platform to allow its health care customers to manage its purchasing procedures.

Novation, a health care contracting services company, finds that VHA PriceLynx, a business intelligence application for the Apple iPhone and iPad, allows it to help health care organizations make supply purchasing more efficient while saving hospitals millions of dollars.
The largest supply contractor for health care in the United States, Novation aids health care organizations in negotiating contracts for supplies. Novation is a joint venture of national health care alliances UHC and VHA, which operates a nationwide network of nonprofit community health centers.
Novation developed PriceLynx Mobile in July 2010 based on the mobile application platform of business intelligence software vendor MicroStrategy. VHA then introduced the application to its member hospitals. VHA had already developed and released a Web version of PriceLynx in Jan 2009 based on MicroStrategy's BI platform.
"What we need is very strong analytics to help our members understand where the pricing and savings are when they look at their spending," Guillermo Ramas, Novation's vice president of strategy and product development for information and data services, told eWEEK. The company examines the purchasing order lines of members to find ways to save money and make purchasing decisions easier, he said.
"In the recent past, we made a decision to expand and invest heavily on analytics," Ramas recalled.
Novation uses PriceLynx to show hospitals price benchmarks for supplies. For example, if hospitals need stents, they'll be able to see what other facilities are paying for them, Ramas said.
The software allows the facility to view pricing and spending reports according to hospital level, category level, vendor level, manufacturing level and item level, he said. Hospitals can look up pricing for products such as knee implants and latex gloves.
The mobile tools allow for easy access to data during meetings with hospital service line managers and provide graphical snapshots of pricing patterns.
The iPad format works well for health care data, according to Ramas. "The iPad allows you to have all that information at your fingertips now," he said. "Clearly the real estate of an iPad screen lends itself better to full-blown analytics reports."
"Doctors won't walk around a hospital with a laptop," Ramas said. "With an iPad it's perfect to walk around the hospital with as long as they have the information they need."
VHA member hospitals each save $4 million per year by using PriceLynx, according to Novation.
"The fact that they can be in an active negotiation with a supplier and also be able to pull up this kind of information on an iPad right on the fly clearly empowers our portfolio executives to conduct these discussions and negotiations," Ramas said.
With MicroStrategy planning to add Android versions of its applications, Novation may adopt that platform as well, Ramas said. "We've embraced the iOS. It doesn't mean we're not going to consider Android in the future," Ramas said.
While supply chain executives currently use the MicroStrategy application, Ramas says Novation has received requests from doctors to use the tool as well.
Ramas sees the role of mobile computing expanding throughout health care. "From a development and from a rollout perspective of applications, there's no doubt in my mind the cost to deploy mobile is a lot cheaper than regular flash-based or desktop-based applications," Ramas said. "I'm not surprised at all at the speed at which this is moving."

Editor's Note: The headline and text of this story were corrected to reflect that Novation developed PriceLynx Mobile while VHA developed the PriceLynx Web edition. The products were built with MicroStrategy's mobile and business intelligence application platforms.