Highmark launches GPO, supply-chain organization
Highmark, a Pittsburgh insurer seeking to acquire a distressed health system, announced the launch of Protoco Supply Chain Partners, a group-purchasing and supply-chain services organization. Protoco will aim to squeeze $100 million over five years from West Penn Allegheny’s supply expenses, which total $480 million annually, according to a Highmark news release. Protoco, which employs 50 people, also signed contracts with St. Vincent Health Center, Erie, Pa., and six-hospital West Virginia United Health System, Fairmont, W.VA., the release said. The move marks the second time in as many months that a healthcare company has announced plans to enter the supply-chain business. Ascension Health Alliance, the corporate parent of the country’s largest Catholic health system, said in March that it would form a group purchasing organization. The pair of new players is entering a market in which the largest GPOS are publicly traded or are owned by multiple hospitals and health systems.