You’d better start thinking like an industrial marketer
Let’s face it, the days of having a physician buy your product just because he likes it are over. Gone are the days of waiting in the lobby to “bump into” your physician for a few minutes of face time, or inviting key department heads to a sumptuous “lunch and learn”. Welcome to a new world: the world of “Med-dustrial” manufacturing.
If you look at patient care as the product, and the hospitals that provide that care as the factories, it’s easy to understand how such long practiced production disciplines as supply chain economics, sourcing, lean enterprise, Kanban, ROI analysis, GPOs and VAC’s have all crept into the collective hospital purchasing vocabulary.
As hospitals continue to apply manufacturing theory to their own operations, so has the need for all vendors in that supply chain to shift their own value proposition. A move from a product-focused message to a more holistic approach – one that defines the product’s total value throughout the hospital’s own “manufacturing” process – will be an essential marketing focus in the new reform act era.
One might ask what role if any the physician will play in this new “lean” process? That depends on many variables. Hospitals increasingly realize that competitiveness by growing higher-margin specialties will be a key source of value going forward. Physicians involved in surgery, imaging and most fee paid services that generate income for the hospital will have a greater weight in purchasing decisions.
However, with more and more hospitals requiring sales reps to interact with purchasing entities first, the ability for a doctor to even see the new product through hospital channels can be severely hampered.
Product innovation is still King, but innovation alone will not be enough for competitive differentiation in the “Med-dustrial” age. The most effective medical device companies will be those who offer broader solutions to hospitals’ challenges and can clearly quantify the clinical and economic benefits of their product. Put simply, the medical device must cater to hospitals’ imperative to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve quality of care.
And next time you visit your own manufacturing facility, take some time to talk to a purchasing, sourcing or operations manager, they may provide you with more marketing insight than you think. In this new era of medical device marketing, these audiences will be critical as “gatekeepers” that grant products entry into the hospital supply chain.
Tom Oko, Marketing Director
"SFA's strategy was spot on. By creating the umbrella slogan, "Ultrasound clearly defined” we were able to truly segment our product offerings by application and specialty, allowing our sales teams to become far more relevant to each customer's needs."