Tips For Selling Medical Devices To Hospitals & IDNs

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Updated June 2020

Suppliers understand that the U.S. healthcare market is a maze of affiliations, network hierarchies, and regulations that can be difficult to navigate. This unique industry is full of opportunities, with hospital and other facility leaders seeking the best methods for improving patient care outcomes and reducing total costs.

Cost-saving initiatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and advancements in healthcare technologies have paved the way for new market opportunities—particularly for medical device companies. Below, we’ve compiled our best tips for selling medical devices to hospitals and integrated delivery networks (IDNs).

How to sell medical devices to hospitals

When selling to any hospital or care facility, there are several key questions that medical device companies must first address:

  • Who are the physicians at this facility?
  • Who are the patients at this facility?
  • What are those patients being treated for?

Say, for instance, that your medical device is an implantable knee prosthesis used in total knee arthroplasty procedures. In this case, your greatest chance for sales success is to target facilities with high volumes of knee injury diagnoses or knee replacement procedures.

Once you’ve identified your target hospitals, it’s important to use specific, data-driven metrics to establish your understanding of that care facility and demonstrate the value of your medical device.

Use performance metrics to demonstrate your product value

If you cannot clearly outline how your device will help a hospital meet its goals, like improving quality performance, your point of contact is unlikely to understand the true benefit and impact of your device.

In crafting your value proposition, you can point out device applications and care outcomes that your prospects might not have considered—thus increasing the value of your product.

You can improve your medical device selling strategy by highlighting specific metrics that support provider focus on patient care and improved outcomes, like:

  • 30-day readmission rates
  • Co-morbidities, or
  • Patient complications

For example, if you’re selling a drug-eluting stent with a higher success rate than existing options, that device would improve care outcomes for angioplasty patients. Additionally, it could also reduce 30-day readmissions and prevent secondary diagnoses and other complications like restenosis. By detailing the multitude of ways in which your device can improve care quality and reduce costs, you increase your likelihood of closing a deal.

Prove your knowledge of facility pain points

Identifying the pain points of a particular hospital or care facility shows your prospect that you understand their unique challenges and have catered a solution just for them.

When selling to hospitals, some of the most vital metrics to know are:

Some facilities may struggle with readmissions, while others report high rates of healthcare-associated infections. The most common quality metrics that hospitals focus on include HCAHPS patient satisfaction scores, hospital-acquired condition scores, and value-based purchasing reimbursement adjustments.

For example, if a hospital’s complication rates for a total knee replacement are above the state or national average, the facility could face financial penalties from CMS. A supplier offering a prosthesis with unique joint cushioning that improves implant longevity could reduce long-term care costs and decrease the risk of complications and secondary surgical procedures—preventing hospital revenue loss and CMS penalties.

How to sell medical devices to IDNs

You’ve identified your ideal hospital: it receives a high volume of patient referrals for your target diagnosis, reports subpar readmission rates, and has plenty of money to spend on supply chain costs—but it’s part of an integrated delivery network (IDN).

Selling medical devices to IDNs can be more complicated than selling to a single care facility, but the outcome may include greater financial benefits. If you successfully sell to an IDN, your device will be implemented throughout its entire network of facilities—which could include ambulatory surgery centers, skilled nursing facilities, and other long-term care facility types.

Use healthcare insights to target IDNs

Before approaching an IDN, you’ll want to gather insights on the health system as a whole. This means collecting data on:

  • Total number of physicians
  • Total number of facilities
  • Types of facilities, and
  • Health system finances

To continue with an earlier example, if you’re selling a drug-eluting stent, large health systems with many member facilities may seem like prime targets for your medical device. That’s only true, however, if facilities within that network are performing a high volume of coronary angioplasty procedures.

On the other hand, you could identify a small IDN that does perform a high volume of angioplasty procedures, but maybe that network doesn’t have the financial bandwidth to afford your device. Gathering this information beforehand not only allows you to make a more informed decision about whether to approach an IDN, but also helps increase the odds of success for your sales team.

Identify a key opinion leader within the health network

Selling to an IDN means that you’ll likely be pitching to a C-suite executive or VP, but this person may be difficult to contact. Ongoing industry consolidation has resulted in a smaller number of large health systems.

Though these networks have the largest market share and present the greatest number of sales opportunities, they can also be extremely difficult to penetrate. So, how do you approach them? Identify a key opinion leader (KOL) within the network.

KOLs are physician influencers with proven expertise in a particular field and a well-respected reputation within their medical community. These leaders will not only be able to help inform your medical device messaging and sales strategy, but can also help put you in contact with the right decision-makers for your medical device.

Developing a good relationship with the right key opinion leader can also help you gain rapport within your target health system. If you’ve clearly demonstrated the benefits of your device and proven its positive effect on patient outcomes, that KOL may be more likely to be your sales champion. Establishing a strong standing before you even approach health system executives is a proven method for ensuring sales success.

Learn More

Are you looking for more information about how to improve your success when selling medical devices to hospitals and IDNs? Watch our on-demand webinar, Insider Perspectives on Medical Device Sales Strategies.

In this panel discussion, four healthcare industry experts share their insights about improving your sales strategies with providers, understanding key metrics, targeting key opinion leaders and physician influencers, and more.

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