In the OR, everyone wears a mask. Can you spot the sales rep?
Today, there’s a real chance that a rep isn’t even scrubbed in. The repless medical device sales model has been generating a lot of noise lately. What are the risks, benefits, and fallout?
It Still Costs Too Much
Despite recent advances, the cost of medical care is still high. With the era of bundled care upon us, hospitals are cutting costs – and reps – out of the picture. For example, Loma Linda cites a 50% markdown in its joint implant prices thanks to a repless sales model. This program began in the spring of 2013 and shows no signs of slowing. These are the kinds of cost savings that can profoundly transform a system looking for new solutions.
The potential savings are 2-fold. First, is the immediate price drop that comes with a direct purchase; second, since no rep is in the OR, there’s no added sales pressure.
Manufacturers are also taking notice since this model can lead to coveted exclusive contracts with medical centers and their affiliates.
Is It Safe?
The primary concern among all stakeholders should be patient safety. If a qualified rep isn’t in the OR, could a device be used improperly? What if a critical situation or question arises?
Those that point to price savings say technicians trained in-house can field questions and lend a hand just like an industry rep. Those against the change, including some doctors, state that patient safety could be compromised.
Reasons For The Trend
Besides the immediate price advantage, several other factors give the repless movement momentum. These are:
- Mature hospital supply chain/procurement practices
- Hospital based clinical support models edging out device industry influence
- Generic device market growth
- New technologies and software
- More hospital employed physicians
- Increase in outpatient procedures
Tech Vs. Rep
Nobody is arguing that technical expertise isn’t necessary in the OR. In fact, some hospitals are hiring ex-sales reps to be OR techs. We can even imagine device companies renting out technicians who have no sales agenda – at least not explicitly.
Training Is Essential
In the midst of this discussion lies the importance of adequate training for the technician, whoever that might be. This must be done diligently and with periodic updates when necessary, for example in human cadaver & bioskills labs.
Both the manufacturer and the hospital have a vested interest in training, and there are ways the cost could be shared. For example, a lead tech at a hospital could be trained by the manufacturer for a one-time fee or as part of a purchase package. This training could then be handed down to OR staff with hospital absorbing the costs.
Still A Niche
Currently, the repless model fills a relatively small niche in the medical device world. However, as price pressures continue to mount, the device without a rep is likely to become more common.
Develop training sessions in a bioskills lab with state-of-the-art human cadaver resources. Contact MedtoMarket at (512) 900-9633 or request a free consultation today.