GHX gearing up for game-changing goals by adding Prodigo Solutions to mix

April 18, 2023

Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) may be two years shy of its quarter-century anniversary, but under President and CEO Tina Vatanka Murphy’s watch the company maintains ambitious plans for its future that extends well beyond its origin as an online exchange.

GHX was launched in 2000 by a small group of leading healthcare product manufacturers seeking to take advantage of the burgeoning “dot-com” landscape as scores of provider organizations steered their internet-based electronic commerce purchasing volumes through a number of business-to-business online electronic commerce Web sites.

 At the peak of dot-com popularity in 2000, more than 90 different online exchanges were offering medical supplies, equipment and other goods and services for purchase. Distributors, group purchasing organizations and manufacturers launched some; entrepreneurs and opportunists launched others.

 Within five years, however – and following the collapse of the short-lived dot-com era – barely a third of healthcare-oriented online exchanges remained.

Today, even fewer divvy up market share among healthcare provider organizations, with GHX outlasting the lion’s share of its competitors – some of which were absorbed by other companies, including group purchasing organizations (GPOs) and many others simply saw themselves converted to “404” pages.

To quantify GHX’s considerable market presence, Murphy told Healthcare Purchasing News in an exclusive interview late Friday afternoon that the company proudly operates as “healthcare’s leading supply chain platform serving 85% of the health systems in the U.S.”

In fact, GHX recorded $160 billion in gross transaction dollar volume via purchase orders, 180 million transactions and $220 billion in invoice dollar volume through its system in 2022, according to Murphy.

GHX’s acquisition of Prodigo Solutions Inc., announced officially yesterday morning, not only reinforces the company’s infrastructure and expands service offerings to its customer base, but it also paves the way for GHX to set the foundation for future goals.

“Our hospitals, our customers, are struggling with inflation, with labor, with ongoing supply shortages, lower patient volumes and their operating margins are going down,” Murphy said. “We believe that in what is an extremely complex health system, the best way for us to support our customers is to simplify the business of healthcare to improve outcomes. We’re really excited because we’re bringing together two very mission-driven organizations with a common, patient-focused, customer-centric approach to solving healthcare’s challenges. What we saw in spades during due diligence is how similar we are in terms of GHX’s vision, which is to create a future where affordable, quality healthcare is possible for all.”

Murphy acknowledges that such a goal may be seen as lofty, something that hasn’t changed in decades.

“It’s as lofty as it is important,” she noted. “When I think back to 23 years ago and the founding of GHX, I was on the front lines, and we were evangelizing the role and the need for GHX in healthcare. People said [then], that’s a really lofty goal.”

Murphy joined GHX in 2000 from B. Braun McGaw. She advanced through the executive ranks in sales, professional services and market development roles before becoming president of GHX Europe in 2012 where she spent two years in Brussels, Belgium. Murphy returned to the U.S. to spend four years as GHX’s senior vice president of global product and corporate development, and then another three years as the company’s Chief Revenue Officer midway through the global pandemic. GHX promoted her to division president, Value-Based Care, for two years until January 2023 when she became the company’s third President and CEO.

Growth by acquisition

The addition of Prodigo to GHX’s portfolio of wholly owned subsidiaries represents its fourth in four years – the first under Murphy’s leadership – and the fifth in nine years.

GHX acquisitions by the years

1.     November 2014 … Vendormate

2.      January 2020 … Lumere

3.      October 2021 … Explorer Surgical

4.      February 2022 … Syft

5.      April 2023 … Prodigo Solutions

Back in November 2014, GHX promoted the acquisition of credentialing company Vendormate as providers gaining richer data about their business partners and transactional activities happening between them.

Nearly six years later in January 2020, GHX added Lumere to offer evidence-based data and analytics solutions that enable healthcare organizations to build clinically integrated supply chains and optimize medication formulary management to create the “gold standard in data governance, providing a single source of trusted information for the management of devices and drugs used in the delivery of care.”

Nearly two years later in October 2021, GHX added Explorer Surgical for its comprehensive digital and remote case support platform that connects suppliers with healthcare provider teams to create procedure playbooks, telementoring and performance tracking tools with GHX’s cloud-based supply chain network and collection of data and clinical evidence.

Four months later in February 2022, GHX acquired Syft for its artificial intelligence (AI)-enhanced inventory control and end-to-end supply chain management software and services to help “modernize the supply chain.”

With the addition of Prodigo Solutions, GHX strives to simplify the procure-to-pay process to boost post-pandemic provider recovery in healthcare.

Murphy declined to disclose the financial terms of the latest acquisition as well as the cumulative amount for the previous four, due to GHX being a privately held company.

But she expounded on the underlying message GHX wants to share with the industry from this string of business deals.

“We believe the need of the day is great,” she said. “We understand that as an industry that has been historically reticent to change, they are now willing – we are seeing it – willing to drive change because we saw the impact of a supply chain in crisis. We saw both the health as well as the financial impact of a system in crisis, and we won’t let that happen again.

“This acquisition is the one that brings all of our solutions together in a ‘One GHX’ platform – that’s our internal term – that allows healthcare providers to shape demand at the point of use,” she continued. “There are wo things I want to [highlight] about this. First, shaping demand at the point of use allows health systems to drive higher contract utilization, it allows them to maximize savings associated with their committed contracts, and what I’m personally very passionate about, is that it supports sustainability objectives that are becoming essential components of the supply chain.”

Murphy emphasizes real-time integration of Prodigo’s technology into GHX’s framework and infrastructure for customer access.  

“The product integration is going to be front and center because what we’ve envisioned is that they have a front-end platform, and we are going to integrate GHX’s Syft inventory data, our Lumere data on clinical equivalence, our Vendormate [credentialling] data that drives compliance as well as our Exchange data,” she emphasized. We are excited about this acquisition that brings together the value of all our solutions in a single pane of glass for our customers.”

Looking forward

Murphy reflects on healthcare information technology efforts, implementations and trends in the 21st century to date that spanned electronic health and medical records (EHR and EMR), enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) and migrating data, information and software to the cloud.

“We think the next frontier is the focus on the back office,” she said. “That’s where we say we think every health system should have an EMR, an ERP and a GHX. We help in bringing it all together.”

UPMC, the Pittsburgh-based healthcare provider and insurer, founded Prodigo Solutions in 2008, as part of its commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, which continues to support the company.

UPMC earned HPN’s Supply Chain Department of the Year award in 2012.

Murphy admits some familiarity with UPMC that predates Prodigo. “In the early days, my claim to fame was that I signed UPMC to be a customer of GHX,” she smiled. “UPMC became a customer of Lumere about six months ago. Through the acquisition of Prodigo, they are now a customer of GHX across all of those services. We’re very excited to have them as part of our community.”

With Prodigo having been incubated at UPMC, Murphy hopes this will motivate others to innovate, which is how GHX develops some of its products.

“We are very excited about the innovation we see happening in the industry,” she said. “If this moves and sparks that even further, then I think that’s great for the industry and for patients. GHX has grown through innovating with our customers – through seeing a need and bringing together a group of customers and together we innovated. I believe that’s what it takes to move the industry. I’d like to go back to our roots and continue to innovate the future with our customers. Most, if not all, of our innovations have come up as a seed of an idea in our annual summit meetings, the latest of which is coming up in May.” The summit is scheduled for May 9-12, in Chicago.

Murphy acknowledges that technology is designed to augment and not replace or supplant people in the areas of ideation, innovation and workflow.

“There are two words in our vision that make me want to stand up and cheer,” she indicated. “And those are the last two words. Our vision ends with affordable, quality healthcare is possible for all. I believe that today we can’t have a discussion about the cost of healthcare without having a discussion on health equity. I am seeing healthcare providers do remarkable things in service to health equity, and as we bring together the people within our community, I am extremely passionate about leveraging our platform, our data and our community in service to those last two words in our vision – ‘for all.’”

All in all, GHX’s acquisition of Prodigo Solutions not only reshapes the company a bit but sends a clear signal about its dedication and devotion to customer service, according to Murphy.

“At each step, at each acquisition, at each organic investment we’ve made, we’ve looked at our customers’ needs,” she said. “During COVID, we saw our customers shift from just-in-time inventory to sometimes carrying [five times] the inventory. They came to us and said, ‘we’ve got to get our working capital optimized.’ Years before that our customers came to us and said, ‘card fees are growing at an exorbitant rate,’ and so we acquired a payment platform that aligned motivations between providers and suppliers.

“As we continue to see more and more [mergers and acquisitions] on the provider side, our providers were coming to us and saying, ‘we’re doing these acquisitions and the heart of the acquisition thesis is to get the benefit of contracted savings.’ This is where they were struggling because it’s a data quagmire to solve for,” Murphy continued.

“So, in this next chapter, leveraging the Prodigo marketplace, we will in a very simple way enable supply chains and health systems to be able to get the value of the contracts that they’ve acquired and spread across all the acquired hospitals to get the value of those acquisitions,” she added. “We see this as really the next dimension of us supporting our customers on their path to optimizing their supply chain. The Prodigo marketplace shapes demand by directing spend toward contractually compliant and cost-optimized product options during the procurement process.”

Photo 3921447 © Deepfrog17 | Dreamstime.com
Photo 4243844 © James Group Studios, Inc. | Dreamstime.com
Photo 48508231 © Sherry Young | Dreamstime.com
Photo 108534239 © Pixelrobot | Dreamstime.com