5th issue impacting medical sales in 2013 – customer satisfaction

In our last blog we posted 4 hospital-physician issues impacting medical sales in 2013:

  • Hospital consolidation continues
  • Hospital-physician alignment grows
  • ACOs are on the rise
  • Hospitals will continue employing physicians

Selling with to hospitals

Measuring customer satisfaction is another trend that hasn’t been written about as much in the medical sales world, but strikes us as one with implications for selling to physicians and other hospital medical staff.

Next year nearly $1B in payments to hospitals in the U.S. will be based in part on patient satisfaction – determined by a 27-question government survey administered to patients. Hospitals with high scores will get a bonus payment while those with low ones will lose money. The new payment rate combines hospitals’ patient-satisfaction scores with a measure of whether hospitals follow a set of procedural metrics (e.g., not immediately giving patients medication during a heart attack).

What are the implications for selling to physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff?  Let’s take a look at what in means in hospital procedure and practice and then explore some jump-start steps medical sales reps could take to be responsive.

Hospital sensitivity to patient satisfaction will impact how physicians, nurses, and all clinical staff interact with patients.  For example, some hospitals have provided nurses with hand-held phones so patients can reach them directly.  Some hospitals require nurses to call patients after they’re discharged to remind them about follow-up appointments and to answer medication questions. Other hospitals have instructed physicians to pull up a chair so they’re at eye level when talking to a patient in bed rather than standing over them.

What does this mean for medical sales reps selling to hospitals?  First as nurses and physicians are asked to do things differently, as well as, do more things in regard to patient satisfaction, this cuts into the time available for medical sales reps to gain access.  It also means physicians and nurses will be looking for help in doing a better job in regard to patient satisfaction.

What should medical sales reps do in order to prepare to be responsive to this trend?  Three basic steps seem appropriate:

  • Know the new payment requirements.
  • Know what specific actions your hospital is taking to be responsive to the requirements.
  • Rethink how your products and service can be positioned to add value to helping your physicians and other clinical staff do what they plan to do and rehearse how you will talk about that added value.

There is no question that medical sales is undergoing change – some of these changes are major and some are procedural but all require the medical sales rep to ask what they need to do differently.

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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