Medical device startups are creating revolutionary equipment and devices that enable physicians, surgeons, and others to diagnose, treat, and possibly prevent diseases and conditions like never before. Of course, medical device startups need to understand the medical device procurement process first so that they can get the attention of medical device buyers. Today, the role of traditional stakeholders in the medical device procurement process is changing. This requires medical device startups to understand these new dynamics and make sure their medical sales reps are prepared.
To determine what those in the medical field are looking for from medical device companies and their sales reps, Diberin Solutions looked at data from three sources:
- A survey of surgeons and nurses by market research company InCrowd which uses “MicroSurveys,” short, 2-5 minute surveys that respect doctors’ time and in doing so, collect higher quality data.
- A healthcare report from global management consultancy firm Bain & Company.
- A panel discussion on “Gaining Physician Acceptance for Your New Device” which was part of a larger event held at a BIOMEDevice conference.
All three resources were on the same page when it came to physicians’ feelings on the current sales practices of medical device companies, what they’re looking for, and how products fit into the procurement process.
5 Factors Important to Physicians When Considering a New Medical Device
When marketing medical devices to physicians, medical device companies should know that the top criteria for surgeons’ when making a medical equipment purchase is safety and efficacy (does the product do what it is intended to do). Beyond that, it’s also important to understand that healthcare providers need to perform a careful balancing act when it comes to rewarding innovation with controlling costs.
1. Product Quality and Patient Outcomes
Unsurprisingly, product quality (safety) and patient outcomes (efficacy) are of the utmost importance for surgeons and other healthcare workers when evaluating new products. So, medical device companies and their sales reps should be sure that technology doesn’t come before safety.
“By and large, particularly in my field, people are pretty conservative, and they are not early adopters of technology,” said Dr. Shant Vartanian, Assistant Professor with UCSF’s Department of Surgery, said in the BIOMEDevice panel. “A lot of people don’t want to expose themselves to risk.”
To encourage healthcare workers to purchase new medical devices, Dr. Vartanian went on to suggest that medical device companies and sales representatives should have papers and presentations with supporting data.
2. Sound Product Safety Data
“Whenever you are building your technology, it’s important to get that prototype to a point where you can actually get out there and generate data,” Kyle Miller, MD, medical research scientist, Intuitive Surgical, told the BIOMEDevice panel. “…That’s the crux of the entrepreneurial effort—you want to … generate good, sound data to figure out whether or not there is a true benefit there to impact outcomes, decrease length of stay, decrease complications, etc.
Findings from the InCrowd survey also revealed the importance of data, with 14% stating they wanted information on how the product will improve current practices and an additional 13% stating they wanted to see supporting evidence and safety information.
Respondents also revealed that they would want to know what other healthcare providers thought of the product as they considered a medical device; this goes along with the thoughts of Dr. Vartanian at BIOMEDevice, who said, “it also helps [medical device companies] to have someone in the clinical world or academic institution to fly the flag for you and be the key opinion leader.”
The survey and comments from those at the BIOMEDevice panel highlight the importance of medical device companies to provide those involved in medical device procurement with solid product safety data. And if possible, positive healthcare provider feedback from successful clinical trials and adoption. Don’t make the mistake of showing up empty-handed!
3. Economic Value
Safety and efficacy are priority, but as surgeons begin to regain purchasing authority, they’ve also become more aware of economic value. Today, 80% of surgeons work with procurement officers in collaborative partnerships to purchase medical devices. Therefore, they’re more likely to weigh financial data as part of their overall purchasing decision than in the past.
The Bain & Company study shows that healthcare professionals expect major increases in the use of innovative pricing models for medical devices, such as patient-based pay for performance, wherein reimbursement is driven by metric-driven outcomes, best practices, and patient satisfaction, and population-based risk sharing, wherein financial risk is shared among provider organizations. Understanding this, medical device companies should be testing and refining their pricing models with physicians and surgeons. Those that can nail these details down now will be in a better position for future company and sales growth.
4. Knowledgeable Sales Representatives
Medical device sales reps continue to be an important source of information for surgeons. According to the Bain & Company survey, one of the most important roles a sales rep can play is that of an on-call support person. This is especially true for orthopedic and cardiac surgeons. It’s also important for sales reps to be a resource of educational information.
The InCrowd survey also revealed some other likes and dislikes of healthcare workers when it comes to sales reps (two of which we’ve covered already):
- In-office demos and trials (24%)
- Information on how the product will improve current practices (14%)
- Supporting evidence and safety information (13%)
- Being pushy (28%)
- Overstating the benefits (13%)
- Lack of supporting evidence/data (12%)
5. Problem Solving Solutions
We’ll make this one quick. In our blog on positioning statements, we noted that one of the biggest reasons a new medical device fails to take off is when a startup is trying to “fix a non-existent problem.” That’s exactly what Johannes Kratz, MD, Assistant Professor with UCSF’s Department of Surgery said at BIOMEDevice. “You have…to understand what problem [a] particular physician or clinician has, and if you can understand that—and what motivates them to do a good job everyday—you have a crack at introducing how your product might solve their particular problem. If you are trying to solve a problem they don’t have, you’re wasting your time.”
Boost Your Medical Device Sales with Diberin Solutions
There’s a lot of competition in the medical device industry. One of the best ways to get ahead is to understand what healthcare workers want from a medical device company and its sales representatives. Hopefully, this has provided some insight on how to sell medical devices in a way that’s meaningful to medical device buyers. Be sure to also read more about the ways to begin understanding your customer and their needs better in our blog 8 Techniques to Boost Your Medical Device Sales.