Medical device sales representatives wear multiple hats. Part healthcare specialist, part technical assistant, part product expert, device reps have proven their worth to physicians who rely on their support and guidance in the operating room.
The medical device rep job is known for being incredibly rewarding, yet completely exhausting. Most reps don't have a medical degree, yet spend hundreds of hours training on products and surgical techniques and often attend as many procedures as physicians do. Reps also devote a massive amount of time to coordinating schedules, traveling to get to cases and prepping to enter procedure rooms.
For every procedure a rep attends, there are dozens more they can't. "Far too often, procedures are delayed or even canceled because a rep cannot physically get to a hospital in time," says Jerry Carter, VP of Sales at Avail Medsystems. "Or the rep arrives at the hospital in time, but the surgeon is delayed in another case, and the rep is forced to spend hours waiting for the procedure."
The time spent traveling and waiting for procedures is lost time, time that could be better spent supporting other clients or engaging with friends or family. And medical device reps know it. One in three medical device reps surveyed in a MedReps poll reported that their job negatively impacted their personal life. Too much travel, administrative tasks and lack of work-life balance were among the top five things reps said they liked least about their position.
The long work days take a toll, forcing some reps to concede business to competitors who can serve their accounts better. Others simply burn out.
"My customers were always asking, 'why do we keep changing reps, why can't we get coverage here, why is there such high turnover? These questions are par for the course," says Carter.
Clearly, job burnout and poor work-life balance have to be addressed for the health of reps and the medical device industry as a whole. Fortunately, advances in technology and communication are changing the way reps do business.
Technology from Avail Medsystems makes it possible for medical device reps to be in the procedure room—even when they can't be. This unique remote platform with integrated audio/visual hardware and software enables reps to cover more cases in a day, decrease their travel time, support physicians during emergent cases and boost their selling capacity.
Two remote control cameras—one on a six-foot boom—with 30x zoom video magnification allow reps to see procedures up close, from any angle. Two-way audio makes it easy to receive calls from the procedure room and consult with physicians in real time.
"I'm seeing countless new avenues of opportunity open wide with this technology," says Rob Hadley, Director of Strategic Accounts at Avail Medsystems. A veteran executive in global medical device sales, Hadley came to Avail because he saw it as an obvious solution to many of the challenges realized by reps in their careers and personal lives."Reps can be in their home office or another hospital or surgery center, receive a call to their laptop or iPad, and actually be able to walk the physician through the use of a product during the procedure—versus flying there, staying in a hotel room and flying back."
Reps may not be able to be at every procedure in person, but Avail keeps them top of mind. "If you can call the doc and say, 'I'm going to be available if you get into a tough spot; I'm right here,' it's going to keep you relevant," says Hadley. "This is a whole new kind of access that raises you to the level of solution provider rather than merely a supplier."
Building and maintaining relationships is critical for reps, to ensure that customers will continue to rely on them and turn to them for their expertise. By being available whenever they're needed, even if they can't be there physically, reps can strengthen customer relationships, foster trust and deliver above-and-beyond service, ultimately leading to greater opportunities for account growth.
Along with enabling reps to be more effective professionally, the Avail technology supports a healthy work-life balance. "Of course you're still going to have to travel," says Hadley, "but at least not 100% of the time. Avail really gives us both the job and the lifestyle. And that's a key factor today for all of us."