For decades, medical sales and device reps have created and proven the necessity of their services working with surgeons and hospitals. Few patients who have undergone surgeries even know that a medical rep is often in the operating room during their procedure.
Now, some hospitals are pressured to lower costs and curb the influence of medical device manufacturers by implementing the rep-less model. This new approach aims to replace the current reps that are in the operating room with lower-cost reps by collaborating with medical device manufacturers.
The Role of the Medical Device Sales Rep
Medical device representatives or healthcare industry reps long have played a primary role in providing technical assistance to healthcare providers. The companies that make medical devices such as Stryker, Johnson & Johnson, and Medtronic employ these salespeople.
Technical specialists and medical device sales reps do…
- Provide guidance to operating room staff in using medical equipment – observe procedures, calibrate devices, provide instructions
- Bring implants to the OR before a procedure
- Aid the physicians and nurses with decisions about instruments – troubleshoot and in some cases, even direct the surgeon how to insert and/or position the device
- Answer technical questions
- Provide a “live interactive resource”
- Train doctors before and during surgical procedures
- Offer information about new and improved products
Overall, the medical device sales reps do not only assist, but they help ensure that surgeons use devices correctly—thus improving patient safety and making surgery faster and more efficient.
Working with Medical Device and Equipment Manufacturers
Some hospitals, for example, the Loma Linda (Calif.) University Medical Center have gone “rep-less” by training their own hospital and technical staff and buying implants directly from the manufacturer at a discounted price.
Loma Linda’s chief of orthopedics said the hospital has saved about $1 million annually, a savings of about 50% on the cost of the devices, without affecting outcomes.
With the rep-less model, medical professionals and even equipment manufacturers can’t help but ask, is there really a sufficient bandwidth for healthcare providers to efficiently implement this method? Would it be profitable for them to take the skill set of the medical reps and replace it with their own employees?
Factors to Consider Before Training and Placing In-House Hospital Staff
“For some institutions, it’s a bandwidth issue,” says Terry Chang, associate general counsel of AdvaMed (a device industry trade association), reflecting a finding in Fugh-Berman’s study that some surgeons prefer working with reps because they are more knowledgeable than hospital staff.
- In-house is difficult because they don’t have the resources.
- Hospitals have to make an investment through additional salaries and training for the service technicians.
- Hospitals may need to create a new department and train new ones.
- It could affect patient safety if not executed well.
- Hospital supply chains sometimes are inefficient in handling the delivery, storage and selection of devices used in surgeries.
- There could be an extensive amount of time and effort required to train surgical staff on the complexities and nuances of trouble-shooting device-related problems
- The staff should also be able to provide alternative ideas to the surgeons for all company products.
In general, would it be favorable for the hospital CFO and Hiring Manager to contract medical device sales who can effectively perform their jobs?
Major Advantages of Contracting Medical Device Sales Reps in the Operating Room
- Don’t have to pay ‘selling, general and administrative’ (SGA) costs as part of the implantable device. Those costs can make up nearly 40% of the price.
- Better monitoring and management – as for the Rep-Lite model, there is only one source if ever surgeons would need further assistance or troubleshooting.
- Improve clinical quality through greater standardization in the devices used.
- Can help hospitals with safety and liability issues
- Reducing the role of sales reps in the OR may improve infection control and lower legal risks
- Gain market share because target hospitals often commit most of their purchases for a specific product to one company.
- Reduce heavy commission rates – lesser need to pay expensive sales reps and free them from marketing and inventory risk.
- Device companies can profitably provide the product for a fraction of what they currently do.
- Lowers manufacturers’ costs by compressing their need to maintain a large-scale network of well-paid sales reps.
Many hospitals have become complacent in accepting the traditional sales and service arrangements. As a result, they risk on spending more on SGA and overall marketing and training costs.
Taking the right path towards employing sustainable medical sales and support professionals can lead to having significant advantages for all the major players in the medical community.
With 27 years of experience in various medical device industries, Rep-Lite has a proven track record of success. Rep-Lite is changing how manufacturers accomplish business in the current environment by providing cost-efficient solutions using overhead reduction revenue generation.
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