PTPN Insights

Save money with the power of group purchasing.

January 22nd, 2013 |

 Save money with the power of group purchasing.Changes in reimbursement over the last few years have tightened therapy belts in rehabilitation clinics across the country. In a recent roundtable discussion with ADVANCE magazine, a physical therapist pointed out, “The expense to run a practice has gone up, while reimbursement has gone down, leaving a narrowing profit margin.”

Everyone is looking for ways to save money while still delivering quality care. One way to save money is to look for group purchasing benefits, through a network or other healthcare organization.

Group purchasing organizations, and organizations like a provider network that coordinate group purchasing discounts on behalf of their members, allow members to receive discounted rates on a variety of supplies and services, allowing even small businesses to enjoy large savings. As one practice administrator notes, “If your practice doesn’t belong to a GPO, you’re losing money.”

When looking at your options for group purchasing, take a look at what types of vendors are offered. How many relationships does the group have with vendors? On what types of supplies and services will you get a discount? Will you be able to have a choice of vendors, or is there a limited selection for each category? Does the organization have staff dedicated to adding new vendors that are willing to take recommendations from members?

PTPN, for example, has relationships with more than 25 different preferred vendors in a variety of categories of products and services. While, as one would expect, PTPN has vendors that offer discounts on therapy supplies and equipment, PTPN also offers a wide variety of vendors that rehab therapists might not immediately think of when considering practice costs.

  • Office supplies. While therapy supplies like treatment tables and hand/ankle weights are essential, so are office supplies like copier and fax toner, paper, pens and staples. This is why we partnered with Office Depot to give members savings on such products.

  • Human resources. A successful practice depends on knowledgeable clinicians and helpful front desk staff. Not only have we partnered with a job listings board specific to physical therapy,, but PTPN also offers member discounts for consulting services like The Omnia Group, which is dedicated to helping you find the best people for your clinic’s needs. Another PTPN vendor partner, Total HR, offers outsourced HR functions like payroll services and employment practices liability consulting.

  • Marketing. Vendors like E-rehab (e-marketing) and Modern Postcard (print marketing) not only offer discounts to PTPN members, but can also help them determine what exactly they need to use to market their business, given the size of their clinic and the budget they have for the project.

There are other ways to save money on supplies as well. PTPN members recently suggested the following ideas to trim a few dollars from your costs:

  • When buying supplies, look carefully at delivery costs. Some local vendors may offer free delivery, or it might be offered after a minimum purchase (for example, if you buy $100 or more in products).

  • Shop for generic office supplies instead of name brands.

  • Fax all evaluations, progress notes and discharge reports to referring physicians instead of mailing paper copies.

  • Use plain envelopes and paper for correspondence with insurance companies, saving the custom stationery for patients and marketing.

Curious about how much you could save each year through group purchasing? Calculate how much you could save as a PTPN or PTPN Nexus member here.

Printable version.

For further reading:

Bassett, Jonathan. Meeting of the minds: An ADVANCE roundtable opines on operating a PT private practice today. ADVANCE for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine, January 8, 2013.

Busch, Jason. Strength in numbers. EMS World, October 1, 2012.

Bawden-Davis, Julie. Healthcare: How group purchasing saves money. American Express Open Forum, February 23, 2012.

The value of healthcare group purchasing organizations. VHA, 2012.

Impact Q & A: PTPN President and CEO Michael Weinper, PT, M.P.H. Impact, a publication of the Private Practice Section of the APTA*, November 2010.

* Used by permission from the Private Practice Section, Impact.