A medical practice is a business establishment. There are a given number of hours in the day, the physician can only accomplish so much using an existing skill set, and the primary focus must always be on maintaining a high level of patient care. While these busy professionals realize that offering medical devices to patients results in both healing and profit benefits, they are still not business professionals in most cases. A doctor acts as liaison between the patient and the medical device company, so the burden must fall on the medical device companies to provide business support that relieves the doctor of some of these responsibilities.
More medical device companies have realized that they can no longer have only clinical consultants in the field. With increased demands on time, changes in insurance coverage, and coding updates to master, doctors have even less ability or desire to engage in medical device marketing. They look to medical device makers to provide business resources that will help draw patients to the practice who are already interested in, and educated about, a particular device. When a new physician opts to use a particular product or technology, the device company needs to take more ownership of the full business process and help the physician build a profitable "business" around that device. By providing access to vendor recommendations, co-marketing campaigns, and other business development programs, device companies can provide more value to their physician clients by helping them succeed in business overall, and not just with their technology. Here are some of the ways that savvy medical device companies are building on their partnerships with doctors:
- Inbound marketing: Doctors have enough to worry about with patient care, and typically not aware of newer digital marketing tactics as well as professional marketers. It doesn’t make sense for the companies to expect that the doctors will be able to generate significant leads, educate the prospective device users, answer their questions, and motivate them to take an action. The medical device companies will need to design and implement digital marketing strategies that target prospective device users, provide them with sufficient information, and drive them to the doctor’s office fully armed with all the educational materials needed to make a decision.
- Search engine marketing: If a patient does hear about a particular medical device that might be helpful in dealing with a certain condition, he or she is highly likely to search online for additional information. Local medical offices or clinics need to be found in those results, but most local doctors do not know how to accomplish this feat. A medical device company can assist in these efforts by providing content management, search engine optimization, and digital marketing assistance.
- Co-marketing campaigns: Physicians have neither the desire nor the financial resources necessary to implement marketing campaigns for their office and for each of the individual medical devices they offer. The burden for this falls on the manufacturer to develop marketing campaigns and to participate with local medical partners in spreading the word to potential patients.
- Vendor recommendations: Out-of-pocket costs can quickly eat up a medical office’s profitability. Finding and negotiating with new vendors can be a time-consuming process. The doctor doesn’t have time to participate in this activity, and the office manager might not have the necessary skills. A medical device company that can take up the slack by providing vendor recommendations becomes a trusted partner instead of just being a supplier.
There is a whole new set of skills which medical device representatives will have to include in their presentations. In addition to educating the physician about their medical device, they will also need to provide a marketing and business consultation.