I am not going to pretend this article is from a health professional working in the NHS or in a Care Home. My perspective comes from working with businesses that supply the health sector.
There are many companies that manufacture PPE or Ventilators and manufacturers who sell products that clinicians rely on to care and treat patients. Under normal market conditions, competition between such companies is vital to improve treatments and the efficiency in delivering care. To achieve this, the sales process would usually include the ability to meet and demonstrate products to the health professionals and procurement officials.
As you might expect, Covid-19 has put a stop to this activity. This will probably remain the case for the next few months (at least) since hospitals are generally off limits to people without medical appointments. Industry conferences with exhibitions have also been postponed for up to 12 months.
Medical manufacturers are adopting new ways of placing their products in front of prospective customers through on-line marketing and promotional initiatives. Empiric Partners have been working alongside their clients to develop innovative ways to demonstrate their products and services remotely in this expanding market. The challenges typically include;
- making effective “cold calls” to potential customers to gain interest can be a difficult when attempting to find new contacts through hospital telephone systems.
- relying on long term customer relationships and face to face contact could be undermined by competitors who rapidly adopt a remote approach.
- the skills required to assemble a product presentation by video are very different to those employed in physical face to face demonstration. The related development of Webinars and talking to a wide audience online is also likely to be a feature of marketing and promotion in the new environment.
- The NHS is far from a single authority with a clear organisational structure. With multiple layers of national and regional directors and managers the route into senior medical staff is complex and obscure
With experience of supply chains in this sector, EP can support businesses who have a need to raise awareness of new or improved products. In short, the answer lies in harnessing the media to approach customers remotely and professionally and we are helping clients learn the new tricks of this “marketing” trade. The view from just behind the front line is challenging and Covid-19 has made effective supply chains even more critical to the delivery of timely medical treatment.