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Healthcare Act

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Will Obamacare kick sales reps out of the OR?

by Loren Bonner , DOTmed News Online Editor

Medical societies, including the American College of Surgeons and the Association of peri-Operative Registered Nurses, have stated that health care industry representatives, based on their training, can provide technical assistance to the surgical team, which can expedite the procedure and facilitate the safe and effective application of surgical products and technologies.

A spokesperson from the American Medical Association told DOTmed News by e-mail that they have no information quantifying the number of doctors who interact with industry representatives for advice on the appropriate use of devices and equipment.
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Hospitals taking charge

What's driving hospitals to cut back the access that sales representatives have enjoyed for some time? Schultz said that under health care reform, hospitals are consolidating into larger medical groups with greater purchasing power. At the same time, doctors are moving away from private practice and becoming employees of large hospitals groups, which in turn gives them less purchasing power as the customers of medical device companies.

"Traditionally, the rep could go to the doctor and pitch the latest and greatest product and the doctor could get whatever they wanted with all the bells and whistles regardless of the price. That's changing now, where the doctor is an employee of a large hospital system and instead value analysis communities are making the purchasing decisions for the entire system," said Schultz.

In fact, Nurep found that 75 percent of U.S. hospitals now require an appointment for a medical device sales representative to enter the hospital. Others are limiting the interaction sales representatives have with physicians. Some, for example, only allow medical device sales representatives to interact with the purchasing department.

The virtual sales rep

With nearly 70 percent of physicians already using an iPad for professional purposes, an app like Nurep's could play a key role in this paradigm shift for online communication when it comes to medical device support.

Schultz explains that Nurep's iPad-based app allows the surgeon to connect with either their personal sales representative or with a 24-hour customer support center, a solution he said is not only HIPPA compliant, but also cost-effective.

For medical device companies, it allows one representative to support more doctors. "They normally do one to two cases a day. We allow them to support four times more cases," said Schultz.
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