Medical Device Companies need to communicate with Clinicians, don’t they?

It’s a bold mission to find some meaningful gap in the information world that is the internet these days, but medlatest believes it is onto something far more important than gaining page views and unique visitors. Depending on your data source, the value of medical devices purchsased in USA lies somewhere between $100Bn and $200Bn per annum, with global figures likely to be between two and three times that figure. Medical devices are defined as equipment or implants used by healthcare providers in the act of treating patients, so excluding the things bought over the counter by the public.

Buying, and product selection decisions, are being driven more and more by cost effectiveness, healthcare economics being an inevitable and increasingly frequent consideration. Clinicians may well know exactly which products they want to use, but are not always best placed to make the business case, having been trained to treat people rather than perform business case analysis. The consequence is that decisions to use any product, let alone which one, will become increasingly scrutinised and controlled by an ever larger stakeholder group. This community of practice may include budget holders, clinicians, clinical leads, procurement, finance directorate to name a few, not forgetting the influence of the patient as information on device types becomes more readily available on the internet and high profile television programmes. If you don’t believe the last part, just ask a UK Orthopaedic surgeon whether patients question what type of hip they use following the recent TV coverage of metal on metal prostheses.

More non-clinicians involved in the clinical decision means the actual users of medical devices must have his or her facts right at all times. Information is power, meaning the well-informed clinician will be listened to. Being industry savvy is becoming a valuable tool.

Here’s where medlatest comes in. We’re medical devices people, so we know how it works. We know what a massive number of plates the average clinician is spinning at any one time. We know how confusing the market is… and we’ve seen and heard first hand situations where clinicians call products by the wrong name, have misconceptions about what they do, who makes them and their indications for use. None of this should be any great surprise because when one examines where information frequently comes from, it’s more often than not the medical rep exchanging news, views and gossip in the coffee room or over the operating table. We’re not talking about big ticket issues here, the stuff of publication in peer reviewed clinical journals, more the daily issues pertaining to new product launches, regulatory approvals, technological advances, acquisitions and so on. A one stop “medtech” news shop aimed at the healthcare community, that is not filled with US centric, investor biased information simply does not exist.

Now consider the medical device manufacturer’s position. All companies, but the smaller entities in particular, struggle to get informative and important messages to their potential customers. Creating awareness for a newly launched device is extremely difficult, relying on expensive sales teams, distributors, congresses, mailshots and the viral effect of the close-knit practitioner community. But anyone in the medical devices commercial world knows that a sales team is only as good as its component parts and even then is a relatively inefficient and extremely expensive vehicle, subject in itself to the Chinese whisper effect… “the company wants me to tell you this, but my interpretation is that…”

Furthermore, company websites are frequently out of date and somewhat static. In our informal survey we found many company sites with either no news, or news that hadn’t been updated for months or even years. We often found it difficult to establish whether products were available outside USA, inside USA, CE marked, or even launched at all. Distributors in country were often hard to find online, and on several occasions we even found companies exhibiting at major congresses whose websites were “under construction”. Use of social media such as twitter and facebook was close to zero, and where it was used this was often limited to providing information about charitable events and contributions.

So why is this? Well, it’s pretty clear that major corporates are extremely sensitive about what they say about themselves in the public domain, to the extent that they issue press releases controlled to such an extent that they are usually limited to financial reports and very dry factual information. Of course we can understand this. A young “loose cannon” product manager can prove an expensive liability if they inadvertently peddle uncontrolled or unapproved information, so companies have approval processes designed to prevent this. The trouble is, the approval process, coupled with the lack of good communications vehicles conspire to make it more trouble than it’s worth to go through the hoops.

Let’s take a step backwards and examine this for a minute. Are we really saying companies prefer to rely solely on the message delivery, with all its vagaries, that using their sales teams as their main marketing communications vehicle inevitably dictates? Can this really be so much better than using the internet even a little, to the extent that they don’t even update their websites occasionally?

Medlatest’s position is that we want to put the cart before the horse. We intend to prove to the clinical world that they can benefit from being informed in bite sized chunks about the industry that after all depends on them. At the same time we believe that by focusing on their marketing communications activity just a little more (and it really is just a little more), companies will ensure their messages are consistently communicated, potential customers will be “warmed up” with information before the rep comes knocking, and the stakeholder community will also be better prepared to negotiate and make better decisions by being up to date with relevant product and technology news.

Medlatest is becoming the place to go for interesting, informative and relevant news for the international medical device user and specifier. It’s not a business to business service… there are plenty of those already. It’s not an investor-biased site nor a US centric site… again these already exist. What it is and what it will grow into is a resource for the reader that dips into news from US where relevant, but only where it has a bearing on the international arena. Companies will be assured that the site gets to clinicians, and clinicians will be assured that the site is interesting, dynamic, current, balanced and every now and then, even a little entertaining.

We call it a medical device centric news portal, as we collect, filter and publish medical device news for you.

Whether you’re a clinician or a company, we hope you can call it a superb resource.

Source: medlatest staff