How to Sell to IDNs & GPOs in a Consolidating Healthcare Market

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*Updated July 2019

Selling into the healthcare space is complicated at best, particularly when targeting integrated delivery networks (IDNs). Each IDN has its own unique model, making it difficult for account executives and other sales personnel to identify which methods are most effective across the industry. The past few years have been particularly challenging, with shifting standards and reimbursement rates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and increased market consolidation via mergers and acquisitions.

Hospitals are no longer the primary focus of patients and care providers. Instead, IDNs aim to cover all aspects of patient care, offering everything from preventative treatment to acute care to post-acute monitoring -- which means more opportunities for suppliers.

Healthcare is becoming more holistic, aided by the widespread implementation of electronic health record (EHR) systems as well as through affiliations and partnerships. The ease of data sharing brings providers across the country closer together, enabling rapid and effective care delivery, regardless of where a patient seeks care. This also improves patient experience and care outcomes, as providers can communicate quickly and make the best decisions on an individual basis. Suppliers can leverage these networks to sell to a wider range of care facilities.

Top 5 EHR Vendors by Market Share

  1. Epic: 28.5%
  2. Cerner: 23.4%
  3. Meditech: 13.6%
  4. Evident: 7.6%
  5. Medhost: 5.4%

Fig 1 Data from Definitive Healthcare's DHC Visuals platform, Technology Vendor Market Share tool (accessed 2019).

Because the majority of hospitals and care facilities are using electronic data collection and sharing software, it is easier for providers to analyze trends in patient care outcomes and population health. This makes is easier to understand the challenges faced by individual care centers, and allows suppliers to customize solutions based on clinical and quality metrics.

Selling to IDNs also requires a comprehensive understanding of the health system components, including member facilities and relationships with group purchasing organizations (GPOs). This allows suppliers to evaluate the best solutions for every aspect of a health system -- a solution that works for an acute care hospital may not work for a physician group or urgent care clinic.

In addition, many of the largest health systems act as purchasing agents, negotiating with vendors to secure lower prices for member facilities. According to Definitive Healthcare data, 80 percent of U.S. hospitals are members of an IDN

Top 5 IDNs by Discharges

  1. HCA Healthcare: 1,873,943
  2. CommonSpirit Health: 1,000,675
  3. Ascension Health: 705,559
  4. Universal Health Services: 670,671
  5. Tenet Healthcare: 655,371

Fig 2 Data from Definitive Healthcare based on reports from CMS and IDN member hospitals (accessed 2019).

Each client facility will have its own needs, challenges, and resources. This makes it easier for sales professionals to lose focus on the client's most important goals. Sales personnel should have a clear plan in mind before ever closing a deal, which helps ensure success for both client and supplier. Client objectives should be realistic and include specific details, like growth percentages, and must be easy to measure and track over time. Guaranteeing client success is as important as making the initial sale -- scheduling check-ins to support customer initiatives will improve the likelihood that you will become their preferred supplier.

Want to learn more about selling to IDNs and GPOs? Watch a recording of our live webinar, 10 Key Strategies to Sell to IDNs and GPOs. Industry experts John Pritchard, President of Share Moving Media, and John Murawski, President of Healthcare Links, share their most successful methods when targeting new prospects. 

Hoping to drill deeper into hospital affiliations (GPOs, regional purchasing coalitions, physician groups, and ACOs)? Definitive Healthcare's data covers affiliations for over 7,900 hospitals and 900 IDNs in its Hospitals and IDNs platform. Register for a free trial today:


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