What’s next for healthcare buyers in a world with COVID-19?
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In the early months of COVID-19, Definitive Healthcare hosted a client panel to discuss how organizations were impacted by the pandemic. Many of our clients offered insights into how their business strategies have changed and what they’ve done to stay nimble and navigate this global crisis.
Read on to hear how COVID-19 transformed the healthcare buying process, and if these projections have held up since mid-2020.
Videoconferencing will continue to thrive
Samson Magid, co-founder and chief business officer of HealthSnap, first suggested that videoconferencing will become a staple of modern business. With the option for in-person meetings removed entirely, his sales team quickly realized during the trying months of quarantine that video calls are far more effective than initially thought.
Previously, the HealthSnap sales team regularly flew across the country to add a necessary human touch to their sales pitches and client meetings. However, Magid found that setting up a videoconference was just as effective as meeting in-person while also being much more efficient from a time and resource perspective. In line with Magid’s observations, Microsoft found that videoconferencing can improve communication, collaboration, and relationship-building among team members.
Jonathan Trombly, senior district manager at Medtronic, agreed with this prediction. Trombly expected growth in the commonality of telemedicine and the regularity of virtual business meetings. For physician groups, telemedicine costs less to provide than other in-person forms of care, and because of its convenience, providers can see more patients and suffer fewer appointment cancellations. Telemedicine also reduces unnecessary urgent care appointments, thus improving management and claims accuracy overall.
McKinsey has found sales have changed in a few significant ways as a result of COVID-19. Their survey revealed that B2B businesses view digital sales interactions as two to three times more important to their clients and customers than traditional or in-person sales interactions. Moreover, the findings show nearly 90% of sales transitioned to a videoconferencing model, with more than half of respondents seeing this as more effective than pre-COVID sales models.
More recently, however, McKinsey found that sales methods have settled between channels, showing a ‘rule of thirds’ preference across traditional, remote, and self-service channels. The study also found that around 2/3 of buyers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service to traditional or in-person interactions.
The most consistent trend in healthcare is inconsistency
When asked what the most important thing to consider when doing business during the pandemic was, Mark Erwich, vice president of marketing at Imprivata, said, ‘Be careful with the term "permanent.’’
Erwich urged his fellow panelists and the audience to never get too comfortable with a particular tactic or practice in the healthcare industry.
Throughout this pandemic, Erwich noticed how, seemingly at the snap of a finger, particular pieces of content his organization produced could transition from irrelevant to what his audience was interested in into a major source of traffic and lead generation.
He attributed these fluctuations in consumer behavior to the surge in remote work and furloughed employees throughout the pandemic. With people having more time at home, the flood gates to consume an enormous amount of content—that might have otherwise gone unnoticed—were opened.
New patterns of consumer behavior continue to emerge as the pandemic fluctuates in terms of cases, deaths, hospitalizations, test positivity, and vaccinations. There have also been deep supply chain issues. In addition, current threats of a recession will continue to impact the economy and, thus, business practices. All these events highlight the importance of embracing uncertainty and change in business.
New healthcare vendors may face additional adversity
Trombly reminded the audience that hospital priorities have shifted dramatically in response to COVID-19. More than ever, hospitals do not have the time or interest to talk to new or potential vendors. Healthcare leaders have put up rigid walls to block out any white noise that does not contribute to their immediate problems.
Sales teams that have made and maintained relationships over the years have an advantage here. Organizations that focus on helping and forming partnerships during COVID-19 will communicate more seamlessly with hospital points of contact in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, newcomers to the market can expect to face additional resistance when trying to form new relationships with hospital leaders.
A December 2021 article by McKinsey explains how pharmaceutical companies that had already adopted agile work practices fared better during the pandemic. Companies also had to rethink how to engage stakeholders in new ways and reassess their commercial-organizational models. This analysis would seem to support the notion proposed by Trombly that, since priorities have shifted, well-established companies have an advantage.
Overall, building trust was critical during the early years of the pandemic. Fortunately, it seems like trust has become easier to build and maintain today. According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, business is the most trusted institution in the U.S.
Although we’re more than two years passed the onset of the pandemic in the U.S., it’s clear COVID-19 is not going anywhere. And there are sure to be effects of COVID-19 on the healthcare industry for years to come. Our healthcare commercial intelligence can help you keep up with all these developments.
For more insight on how the pandemic changed healthcare, read our four-part blog series on Definitive Healthcare CEO Robert Musselwhite’s Definitive LIVE! keynote presentation. Or get hands-on with our healthcare commercial intelligence and sign up for a free trial today.