Using data on hospitals' purchases across a large number of important product categories, we find that access to information on purchasing by peer hospitals leads to reductions in the prices hospitals negotiate for supplies. These effects are concentrated among hospitals previously paying relatively high prices for brands purchased in large volumes. Evidence from coronary stents suggests that transparency allows hospitals to resolve asymmetric information problems, but savings are limited in part by the stickiness of contracts in business-to-business settings. Savings are largest for physician preference items, where high-price, high-quantity hospital-brand combinations average 3.9 percent savings, versus 1.6 percent for commodities.
Grennan, Matthew, and Ashley Swanson. "Transparency and Negotiated Prices: The Value of Information in Hospital-Supplier Bargaining." Journal of Political Economy (forthcoming).
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