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Savvik Buying Group (Formerly North Central EMS Cooperative (NCEMSC)

Summary 
  • Need: Due to its reduced Medicare ambulance service reimbursement, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act threatened to put many rural volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) providers out of business across the country.
  • Intervention: Savvik (formerly North Central EMS Cooperative, or NCEMSC) created a mechanism for EMS providers to achieve cost reduction through group purchasing.
  • Results: The program brings discounts on EMS supplies to over 6,300 members across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Description

Savvik Buying Group Logo The passage of the Balanced Budget Act in 1997 brought changes to the Medicare ambulance fee schedule, reducing payments to emergency medical service (EMS) providers, threatening the business viability EMS providers trying to continue rural service. Looking for solutions, 3 Minnesota providers formed an EMS corporation to serve Minnesota and surrounding states, creating purchasing power to allow members to buy equipment at a reduced cost. This group was initially known as the North Central EMS Cooperative (NCEMSC) and received initial support from a Kellogg Grant.

Working with co-op development specialists from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to set up a strategic plan for the program, NCEMSC changed its name in 2015 to Savvik Buying Group. This reflected the national scope of membership and service in the public safety.

Additionally, through the Savvik Foundation, formed in 2000, the organization is able to reinvest in the industry with revenues returned "regional, state and national EMS associations as well as being donated to The Savvik Foundation so that it can complete its mission of leading industry efforts in such areas as safety, efficient operations, education, research and national consensus building."

Services offered

Savvik Buying Group allows members a group purchasing benefit resulting in significant discounts on high quality supplies and equipment. Membership fees are currently free for individual providers, with revenue sharing if the provider is part of a participating organization, such as a state EMS association. Members save money on everything from daily office supplies to major purchases. For example, those that have purchased major items like ambulances report saving $20,000 or more in one year. Savvik Buying Group has partnerships with multiple different vendors to offer the following products:

Pine City EMS providers George Germann, top, and George Castonguay, practice transporting using this stair chair, purchased through the North Central EMS Cooperative.
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Uniforms and apparel
  • Turnout gear
  • Benchmarking and Training
  • Travel services (rental cars, hotel rooms)
  • Facility maintenance
  • Tactical gear
  • Maintenance supplies
  • Defibrillators
  • Ambulances and remounts
  • Promotional items
  • Office supplies and equipment
  • Legal services
  • Fleet fuel
  • EPCR and billing software
  • Computers and electronics
  • Equipment services
  • Patient feedback services

The group also researches products and prepares bids for members, and provides services such as information on governmental and regulatory practices, certifications, and safety standards. Legislation updates affecting the industry are also provided.

Results

As of 2020, Savvik Buying Group now serves over 12,000 members, up from 2017 membership numbers nearing 7000. Members are located in all 50 U.S. states, as well as Canada, Mexico, and Colombia. With Savvik's purchasing power and support, small, rural EMS providers across the nation continue to serve their communities.

Visit Savvik Buying Group for more information.

Contact Information

Mickey Schulte, Executive Director
Savvik Buying Group
888.603.4426
mschulte@savvik.org

Topics
Emergency medical services
Healthcare networks

States served
National/Multi-State, Minnesota

Date added
September 5, 2007

Date updated or reviewed
February 26, 2020


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.