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Initiative offers medical reference tools at discounted rates

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Like just about everything else in health care, the price of medical library resources is going up as the reimbursement hospitals receive continues to go down. That's why the Health Sciences Library Association of New Jersey is ramping up awareness of its Group Licensing Initiative.

Hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware can join the association's group purchasing deal to access medical texts and reference tools at discounted rates. More than 100 hospitals participate, from community facilities like Hackettstown Regional Medical Center to large academic hospitals like Hackensack University Medical Center.

The Group Licensing Initiative is entering its 11th year of operations, but Executive Director Robert Mackes said the organization is pushing awareness of the power of group purchasing now to coincide with an expansion of access for hospitals as well as a new study coming out in January showing how access to reference materials affects clinical and management decisions in hospitals.

Mackes said he hopes increased awareness of the group, through media outreach and other marketing initiatives will get hospital administrators and physicians to "see the information and push it back to their librarians to investigate working with us."

The HSLANJ has received recognition from the regional arm of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine for its purchasing arrangement. HSLANJ works with eight different vendors for e-textbooks and other library materials, and hospitals can purchase as much or as little as they see necessary. Many purchasing consortiums have an "all-or-nothing" arrangement, forcing members to purchase all of the assembled collection in order to receive cost savings.

Mackes said HSLANJ typically saves hospitals 20 to 30 percent on their library resources because of the size of the group. He said one vendor sells its e-books to member hospitals at 90 percent discount of individual purchasing, which is important because Mackes said these reference guides are heavily used at hospitals.

A report in the January 2013 edition of the Journal of Medical Library Association shows that physicians, resident and nurses rated resources available through their hospital library as important to clinical decisions 97 percent of the time.

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