As we edge towards the end of 2012, medical sales people are thinking about closing out 2012 strong – providing momentum for a good start in 2013. One key to a successful 2013 is crafting effective account sales strategies … and a linchpin of a successful sales strategy is an understanding of the customers and the issues they face.
Let’s take a look at four critical issues affecting hospitals and physicians as 2013 unfolds.
- Hospital consolidation continues. Whether through mergers or purchases, consolidation continues to grow, being driven by declining reimbursement, tight credit, and an effort to gain more leverage with payers. Payers also are consolidating with other health care plans – increasingly seeking to own and operate providers.
- The growth of hospital-physician alignment varies by geography. About one-half of all physicians are employed by hospitals today, and more than three-quarters have some type of financial relationship with a hospital. Studies have found that once one a hospital in an area begins to acquire physician practices, others follow out of concern that referrals from independent physicians will dry up. Increasingly hospitals must have financial relationships with the physicians.
- Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are on the rise, with hospitals leading in ACO development. It’s much easier to control a tightly tied network where ACOs are responsible for physician income.
- Hospitals will continue employing physicians if they can afford it. It ensures continuation of a referral base and the economics work in a fee-for-service environment. Over time, hospitals will become more aggressive in employing physicians to remain competitive. Hospitals not focused on employment will be looking at other engagement models with physicians, such as joint ventures and professional services agreements, etc.
With the new relationship between hospitals and physicians, it’s expected that physicians will participate in and be held accountable for operating efficiencies, for example: quantifying savings opportunities and standardizing purchasing. What’s the macro level impact on sales? These trends will continue to shift the purchase of medical devices away from solely relying on physician preference.
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