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Owens & Minor

The Project: A service that allows health-care organizations to lower costs by analyzing pricing trends in their purchases.

The Payoff: Customers have gained volume discounts and switched to lower-cost items, shaving 2% to 3% off their expenditures.

For Owens & Minor (OMI) Inc., success means driving down the price of baby wipes -- and thousands of other hospital supplies. The company, one of the largest suppliers for the health-care industry, is betting it can win business by helping its customers hunt for bargains. The company has introduced a Web service that lets hospitals track purchases they make with hundreds of competing medical suppliers. The system pinpoints lower pricing on similar items, helping customers take advantage of discounts already negotiated. Hospitals keep better tabs on their bills and cut costs an average of 2% to 3%. For Owens & Minor, the service reels in new customers. And when existing customers find lower prices, they order more. By Spencer E. Ante

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