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Executive Summary

FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER SCHMIDT JOINING UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL CONSORTIUM as VP and head of the hospital network's Technology Advancement Center, UHC President Robert Baker announced at The Wilkerson Group's Sept. 15 health care symposium in New York City. Alexander Schmidt, MD, joins University Hospital Consortium from the University of Illinois, where he was VP-health sciences. Schmidt was the FDA commissioner from July 1973 to November 1976. The consortium, which includes 48 academic medical centers and six affiliates, was originally founded to analyze organizational problems affecting university hospitals. The group's mission has since been expanded to include strategic planning and group purchasing. The technology center is a development stage project aimed at assisting manufacturers in planning clinical trials at UHC member hospitals. Schmidt "fully understands the academic environment, the regulatory environment and has a good grasp of the industrial environment, serving on several manufacturers' boards," Baker said. "He has been on board for about two weeks, but already the response that we have received from both the FDA and from industry has been absolutely overwhelming." UHC hopes the technology center will act as an interface between industry and academic medical centers. "We are looking at ways we can enhance the activities of the institutions," he explained. "We want to facilitate the placement of preclinical and clinical trials. . . . It is our hope and plan that we will develop the capability to interface with primarily smaller manufacturers who are looking for clinical trial sites" and expedite that search. The center also will be able to assist companies in planning clinical trials as well as help explain regulatory requirements, Baker said. In addition, the center will act as a clearinghouse for information on new technologies, Baker added. "One of the problems in bringing new technologies to the marketplace is developing adequate clinical information to justify our reimbursement rate," Baker noted. "That hurts the manufacturer; it also hurts the academic centers." The UHC technology center could play a role in gathering information collected at individual member hospitals and making it available to centers negotiating reimbursement rates. Baker estimated that the combined member hospitals make annual purchases of about $ 1.3 bil., approximately 30% or $ 350 mil. under volume purchasing contracts. He explained that UHC does not wish to develop exclusive relationships with vendors, nor "just a few partnerships." The consortium is dedicated to the competitive bid process, Baker said. The group also expects to remain small. With 48 members at present, the consortium will probably grow to 54 hospitals by the end of 1988, Baker predicted. He estimated that the total number of hospitals qualifying for membership is 120.

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