Medical device manufacturers are currently experiencing dramatic highs and epic lows, perfectly mirroring other sectors rife with regulations and innovation.
On one hand, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act drastically reformed America’s healthcare industry, as citizens now have access to health insurance and providers must overcome new laws. As The Huffington Post reported, the medical device tax, specifically, has caused quite a ruckus. According to the source, many manufacturers have reduced the number of capital investments in research and development, while other firms stopped hiring new employees in an attempt to handle tax-related constraints.
On the other side of the medical device industry, there is innovation. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Technology Monitoring Team recently published a report that found the number of U.S. medical device patents has close to tripled in the past five years. In 2014 alone, there were almost 20,000 patents granted in this sector. It’s clear that the industry won’t slow down in its creation of new and extremely valuable medical devices.
“Sales professionals need to counterbalance their industries’ evolution with tools and solutions.”
Both the regulations and innovations mean one thing for the medical device industry: It has changed rapidly. Medical device manufacturers must stay on their toes if they want to remain competitive in the coming years, but more importantly, their sales teams should be ready to adopt change and switch their position and sales strategies on a dime.
So, what’s better to help usher in a new era of medical device sales than technology? Sales professionals need to counterbalance their industries’ evolution with tools and solutions, as tech is the only aspect of this equation that can keep up with rapid change. Specifically, three technologies will play a huge role in post-sale support.
From smartphone apps to tablet add-on modules, medical devices have played a very interesting role in the healthcare industry in the past few years. Doctors no longer need physical charts and nurses to rely on automatic data entry. Because of this shift, the use of mobile devices is now impacting post-sales support for medical devices.
According to Device Pharm, healthcare provider Smith & Nephew procured a new product delivery system for hip and knee replacements, and as a result, manufacturer-specific technical support staff isn’t required anymore. In this person’s stead, there is a tablet and mobile app.
This story about Smith & Nephew highlighted interesting uses for tablets in the post-sales support process for medical devices. For example, sales representatives can create mobile apps that convey all necessary information. Better yet, medical device manufacturers can send physical training documents from their managed print service, and then connect support reps with doctors via video conferencing apps.
Storing Documents & Data in the Cloud
At this point, most professionals are familiar with the cloud – specifically, services that allow users to store documents and data in the cloud. While the healthcare sector is strictly regulated, providers and employees can use the cloud to share files and information, as long as it’s not personally identifiable.
In regard to post-sales medical device support, manufacturers can benefit from hosting training documents, product flyers and other information on cloud-based file sharing platforms. This way, tech support and sales reps won’t need to send training manuals, feature lists and similar files manually. Instead, healthcare providers can download or have these documents printed and delivered overnight. This makes it easy to train new staff or brush up on material.
Taking Advantage of Big Data
Everyone loves big data – this technology has proved its worth in dozens of industries, and healthcare is no exception. In fact, the medical device manufacturing community is now taking advantage of big data and analytics in an attempt to make these products and equipment safer, and reduce the need for post-sales support.
According to Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry, manufacturers are using predictive analytics to lessen the chance of medical device defects, as machine-learning technologies have the ability to accurately predict trends in use and compare those with historical warranty data. With this knowledge, issues will occur less, and sales reps can teach best practices to minimize the risk of device failure even more.
The medical device manufacturing industry must balance rapid change with technology, and the post-sales process is the first aspect of this sector that can introduce new strategies based on innovative tools and solutions.
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