Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), the health e-commerce platform established by an alliance of leading international medical device firms, has announced that Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has become the first European hospital to be integrated into its e-commerce system.

Medical industry-backed GHX focuses on deeply integrating into the purchasing systems of hospitals and suppliers to cut costs from the supply chain. The main cost savings come from improved data quality and accuracy.

Leeds — the largest NHS trust in England — became the first live GHX hospital site in Europe on 4 February, when live transactions began between the Cardiac Catheter Labs at Leeds General Infirmary and supplier Boston Scientific.

Gene Dorff, general manager of GHX, Europe, revealed that GHX plans to integrate 85 hospitals across Europe into the GHX trading system by year end. If achieved the target would establish GHX as the dominant player in the European health e-commerce sector.

Keith Lilley, head of procurement at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, explained why the trust had chosen GHX as its e-procurement partner: "GHX aims to take costs out of the supply chain for equity members and stakeholder partners, not make profits for shareholders".

Lilley added: "It will help us re-engineer our business process, something that we’ve wanted to do for some time, as it changes your trading relationship with suppliers".

Leeds has organised an e-trading summit on 14 March with its 25 top value suppliers, to explain its approach and how it wants to develop electronic trading relationship with them.

Working with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Oracle, GHX, integrated its e-commerce platform to the Oracle procurement system used at Leeds, enabling end-to-end integration between the trust’s procurement systems and those of the trust’s suppliers.

Oracle currently provides procurement systems to over 30 acute NHS trusts in England and Wales, and GHX now plans to offer its interface to other NHS sites using Oracle.

Gene Dorff, general manager of GHX, Europe, said "Going live at Leeds, and successfully connecting to Oracle, should give us credibility in the marketplace".

Dorff confirmed that GHX plans an ambitious roll-out across Europe during 2002. "Our goal is to have integrated with 85 European hospitals by the end of the year."

GHX is currently funding two further NHS pilot sites, at Leicester and Plymouth, where it is developing links to the other two main procurement systems used within the NHS — Belmin-Eros and McKeown-Integra.

Implementations at Leicester and Plymouth are due to go live by the middle of 2002.

A similar integration project has been carried out by GHX with the SAP-based procurement system used by St Johannes Hospital in Dortmund, Germany. GHX is also working with four further undisclosed acute hospitals in Germany.

The NHS is currently developing e-commerce on a number of fronts, including local trust projects, across wider geographies through the shared service initiative project and potentially through the introduction of a common NHS-wide e-commerce system by 2006.

NHS e-commerce policy documents suggest that savings of up to 20% may be possible on the service’s £11 billion annual non-pay budget through the introduction of NHS-wide e-trading and e-commerce systems.

Dorff said that that GHX would be strongly interested in linking to any future NHS-wide e-commerce system, but stressed: "For GHX to be successful we need to link into systems in use in hospitals right now."

So far GHX has integrated systems at a total of 143 hospital sites and connected 34 separate suppliers, with most of its early activity focused in North America.

Founded in March 2000, equity owners of GHX include Johnson & Johnson, GE Medical Systems, Baxter International, Medtronic, Becton Dickinson and Guidant Corporation, McKesson Corporation and Siemens Medical Solutions.