Choosing Medical Devices & Service in the Digital Age
By Ibby Smith Stofer
Choosing how to spend our money in an age of Internet ratings and reviews is much different than it used to be. Advertisers and salespeople no longer have control over how we view their products. The same is true for medical device companies and service providers who are looking to reduce costs and add value, just as any other consumer does.
Recently, I read an article on Think with Google that was titled Information is Power: How Hospital Administrators Research Online. I found it to be an interesting and informative look at how the purchasing decisions for medical devices are changing as device salespersons are losing control over purchasing factors like reduced reimbursement, pay for performance and more.
Historically, the sales rep was the voice of the company to the clinicians, materials management, biomed or other departments traditionally involved in the selection process. Sales representatives were responsible for keeping accounts in their pipeline as contracts expired, equipment aged, GPO’s changed, etc.
But now, hospital administrators are really doing their research on technology to aid in the selection and purchasing process. With the ever-increasing costs and sophistication of many medical devices and software platforms, the C-suite has a vested interest not only due to costs, but also due to the potential impacts on customer ratings and clinical turnover.
In 2013, Google and HIMMS conducted a survey of nearly 750 hospital decision makers, followed by 60 in-depth interviews on how they make purchase decisions. The trend of using independent research prior to contacting companies is the new norm. You and your company can be eliminated from consideration based on the information or lack of information found through Internet search engines.
Therefore, it is critical that your website is customer focused versus company focused. You might want to include videos of your devices in use in the hospital setting and actual customer testimonials. Since many administrators use their mobile devices to initiate searches, your digital presence needs to be Smart friendly as well.
How does this affect the role of that sales rep? He or she needs to be very aware of the information available to the customers via their independent research. They can expect to be questioned about any potentially conflicting or negative data and they must be able to discuss the differentiation they have from the competitors. Today the representatives need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the hospital’s financial priorities and challenges in order to demonstrate how their company’s product or service will have a positive impact.
Med One Capital’s commitment to making medical devices available includes keeping ourselves in the know by understanding the evolution in the purchase process and the economic challenges our vendor partners are facing in today’s digital world.
Following are some questions that may be considered by the healthcare provider when evaluating what value your device will have for them:
- Will we save costs?
- Will we improve outcomes or patient and clinician satisfaction?
- What process or procedural changes might be needed to achieve those savings or improvements?
- Are you ready to offer risk share and product guarantees on these outcomes?
Without these types of value offerings, companies may be excluded or have to compete solely on price.
Whether you provide a product or service, device companies must communicate your value propositions with supporting evidence in terms that resonate with your customer. Customers want to know how you can and will help them manage their business and provide better outcomes for patients, rather than just be informed about your features. No longer can we expect the sales person to be the sole communicator. The C-suite decision makers want and deserve data and evidence of your capabilities as the environments they work within become more and more complex and demanding.
Know what the digital world says about you, your customer and your competitors if you want to be prepared to differentiate and document your value to customers.