What is a group purchasing organization?

A group purchasing organization (GPO) negotiates contracts with vendors or companies for discounted services and supplies for access by its members. The power of group purchasing results from combining the volumes of all members in order to drive down pricing while improving service for everyone. Distributors, suppliers, and manufacturers have the advantage when dealing with each dental practice as a stand-alone business. An individual operation does not purchase a significant quantity to influence supplier pricing. But the group does!

By harnessing the combined purchasing power of dental professionals the United Dental Alliance (UDA) is able to negotiate agreements for materials directly with distributors, suppliers, and manufacturers.

What services does United Dental Alliance provide?

We establish purchasing agreements for Members to buy the same patient-oriented supplies you are buying today – SAME PRODUCTS BUT BETTER PRICES. This will help improve the bottom line for each participating Member without compromising quality or availability.

United Dental Alliance conducts direct negotiations with suppliers and manufacturers, implements formal contract agreements, facilitates capital equipment purchases, and provides continuous reviews of spend patterns to determine emerging opportunities for cost savings/expense reduction.

Will this change the way supplies are ordered and received?

Nothing will change except the price. Since we are a contracting agent and not a vendor, your purchasing procedures will remain the same. You can expect to continue to order your products as you always have (via phone, fax, through a representative, or online) and receive them via the same methods with which you are accustomed.

We hold no inventory. We let vendors and distributors do the work they are best trained to do through the channels with which you are familiar. The relationships that currently exist between members and suppliers/distributors will continue. The only thing that will change will be that members will receive greater value for materials & services purchased by being a part of a larger group.

There is no obligation to purchase under any agreement established by United Dental Alliance. Each member retains his or her full right of choice in purchasing materials. They decide what they want to purchase, from whom, at what quantity, and at what time.

What benefits can I expect to see?

Primarily Lower Prices: We are able to affect significant reductions in the prices of the materials, equipment, and services that are being received today. In addition, United Dental Alliance agreements will strive to “lock” prices in for the duration of the contract term while establishing measurable standards for service quality.

Automatic Price Changes: Already buying from one of our contracted vendors? Great. Once you become a UDA Member you are automatically eligible for the reduced pricing.

Equivalent/Higher Quality: With input from the UDA Advisory Board, a balance will be developed between cost and quality. Past experience suggests that quality will be held equivalent and in many cases improved.

Savings Analysis: Our staff will be able to run price comparisons for anyone interested in reviewing potential savings. What will be needed is the history of past purchases either in the form of hardcopy invoices or, preferably, an electronic record of purchases as maintained by distributors. We will identify price differences of both like-to-like products and those of similar quality and provide a report to the requesting party.

Ongoing Education: UDA can often develop educational information from vendor partners that can improve your product utilization. This information will be provided in several forms. Periodic electronic newsletters, postings on our website, videos, or scheduled online broadcasts by vendors.  Many educational opportunities also include CE accreditation.  

Can Employees access UDA Benefits?
We consider employees to be the core resource for the practice.  UDA has built many agreements that can be passed through to employees for their personal use.  Examples are discounts with cellular phones, office supplies, car rentals, retail discounts, and much more.  We are continually searching for ways to extend benefits to employees of the practice.
Do I have to change all of the products I use to save? Can I still order from companies I like, too?

What you purchase, and from who is always your choice. However, our vendors offer superior pricing and should be considered.  But that decision is yours. Once you join UDA, you are identified as a UDA member, and our exclusive pricing is unlocked to you.

What if I’m already in a company buying group

UDA has many agreements other buying groups do not so incremental savings can be found with us. There are so many other places to save, such as other GPOs and study groups, and the combined savings for you can be very significant. We want you to be successful as a business owner and encourage you to review all channels.

Do I have to spend hours cross-referencing everything and researching to find the savings?

We have representatives from the companies on the list who can help cross-reference your current spending and help you make that determination.  It's to their advantage to have you participate with UDA.

If we already buy from a company on the list, will we get the UDA discount?

The short answer is yes.  All of our partners have different connectivity processes and these are detailed within our member website.  For many of them. you will simply need to tell them you are a UDA member.   For others, we will need to connect the practice.   Discounts are provided at the point of activation and retroactive credits are not applied.

What if I believe I am already getting good prices?

If you are, great!  You must have a very good inventory person.  Our supplier group is comprehensive and we have discounts that are generally not given unless you are with a large group organization like UDA or a DSO. It is difficult for a single office to beat pricing obtained by a group with many thousands of members.  You should review what we have and look at our satisfaction guarantee.

How much can I expect to save in a year?

Being a member of UDA is like any membership organization – the more services are used, the greater the benefit. The average reported savings for a typical single doctor practice in the first year is $3,000 to $8,000. And this does not include the savings employees can receive.  These savings are representative of a committed member.

Is there any training once you sign up?

After joining, we send a welcome email with instructions on how to begin with us.  If you would like a more in-depth orientation, we can schedule a call for the doctor and ordering staff.

What does it cost to become a member of UDA?

UDA is a GPO organized to service its Members. A paid membership is required to access our benefits. We do charge an annual fee of $499 to become a member but there is no contract. If a member becomes fully engaged with UDA, they can save many times the cost of the membership fee plus participate in future vendor agreements that are in development.

If you are not satisfied with what UDA has to offer, UDA will refund your membership payment.

Our goal is to construct benefits that keep members satisfied and engaged.

What are the benefits to suppliers and distributors?

There are numerous benefits to suppliers that create an environment of participation. Some of the advantages are listed below.

– Opportunity for increased market penetration
– Reduction of administrative and sales costs
– Equitable and fair contract award process
– Contract management support
– Better sales forecasting/production planning
– Opportunity to provide better education of new products
– Opportunity to communicate with high-level customer contacts

The above benefits create significant value for suppliers/manufacturers and allow them to plan future production. Direct pipeline identification is created to the final user and this allows suppliers to better control their costs.  If you would like to learn how to partner with UDA, send an email to [email protected].