From within its Medical Supplies business unit, Hewlett-Packard Company, as a renowned provider of health care equipment, has developed an efficient Internet shopping system for medical instruments. Health care institutions and facilities are now able to place online orders for more than 600 products, ranging from the popular HP Rappaport-Sprague stethoscope over cables, sensors and electrodes for HP patient monitors to defibrillators. The service is available at any time, seven days a week and 24 hours a day through a highly secured server. Health care customers just need to register at the Web site to enter the electronic supermarket.
Today, the new online ordering system is already operational in the United States. The purchasing process is streamlined and optimized via the interactive potential and the enormous reach of the Internet. The HP shopping site offers access to a comprehensive catalogue of medical supplies to browse and choose from. The catalogue can be consulted in various ways: by product or instrument number, by key word or via the product type. It is equally possible to directly head for the most recent updated product and pricing information.
Previously, a market study was conducted by Dartmouth University's Amos Tuck School of Business Administration and Evans Research on behalf of HP, to analyse the existing needs for an online ordering service of medical supplies. Over 300 health care purchasing managers were involved in the survey. The outcome showed that 68 percent was willing to order products over the Web, if offered the opportunity. The potential users considered the 24x7 availability of the system, the prompt access to accurate information, and the reduced chance for mistakes as the major advantages.
Users who decide to register, receive a unique customer identification name and password to guarantee the safety of all their authorized transactions. Ordering privileges and customer accounts are only granted after the new candidates for online ordering have been checked out. In some of the cases, contractual pricing can be extended to the customer's Internet account. As the user enters the Web site, he is free to fill a "shopping basket" by navigating through the interactive catalogue or to electronically fill out the order form with the required product numbers.
The customer is allowed to buy products via an authorized purchase order or by credit card. Through the application of advanced secure server software technology, all orders are safely encrypted to avoid any possible abuse by unregistered third parties while the message is travelling over the Internet. In addition, each account profile is stored by the system, so the user has to enter his account information only once, at the moment of registration. HP plans on offering supplementary medical-equipment support services via the Web at the beginning of 1999.