Doctors Have
Lost Their Power.
Now What?

Historically, HealthTech marketers have focused on clinical champions, banking on them to advocate for their products—a sound strategy when independent physicians were heavily courted by hospitals seeking patient referrals. But physician practices that are owned by health systems have lost this leverage and now must “play ball” with the administration.

In other words, decision-making dynamics have changed, and one result is that you need to change the way you market. Here are three crucial steps to take:

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Step 1?
Raise the bar

You still have to win over clinical champions, but now, it’s harder than ever. Physicians have limited political capital and will use it only if they think they’ll succeed. And to succeed, they require an economic narrative that contains hard or soft cost savings, or both. If your economic incentive is thin, your potential clinical champion won’t go to bat for your product and it won’t be evaluated. Here’s how to modify your approach:

Disposables: Re-strategize your VAC Pack. Instead of a catch-all of information, your VAC Pack should be a sequential narrative that brings your product’s value to life and substantiates that value with clinical and economic evidence.

Capital equipment: Your technology, no matter how advanced, means nothing if it doesn’t correlate to cost avoidance and reduced cost of care. Be sure to emphasize the economic benefits of your technology and start addressing them earlier in your marketing.

IT/Software/Informatics: Focus on superior workflows that improve productivity and allow clinicians and staff to do more with less. And again, be sure to connect your product to a strong economic benefit up front.

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Step 2?
Engage the administrator

Departmental service-line administrators used to bend over backward to accommodate the requests of their physicians. Now, physicians have to bend over backward to accommodate them. That’s because these days, admins have their own departmental strategies they’re trying to drive—strategies that are in line with the organization’s overarching goals. Employed physicians have to be clinical partners with admins and support their strategies. Here’s how you can adjust accordingly:

Market research focus: Find their strategy
Your job is to identify their strategies and to make it clear how your product or service can support them. To do so, you need to collaborate with administrators up front and ask them. Fortunately, admins are remarkably open to market research and 
meeting with representatives.

Marketing focus: Sell them on your strategy
At the end of the day, admins care about creating better outcomes. If they lack a coherent strategy, sell them on yours. But that won’t happen if your salespeople don’t engage, which they’ll only do if marketing has effectively armed them.

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Step 3?
Get to the C-suite

When it comes to big capital and IT purchases, a C-suite member will sit on the selection committee and will have final say. But 99% of the time, those C-suite stakeholders aren’t being engaged at all. The reason is that 99% of marketers don’t understand this stakeholder and haven’t developed the strategy or messaging to effectively engage them. Follow step 2 but pay attention to the following:

DO: Speak ROI
The C-suite decides what gets funded. They routinely weigh the most strategic places to invest. They do not have a problem spending more money for a premium offering as long as it produces a premium return on investment.

DON’T: Engage in a technical discussion
Market research shows that when salespeople try to use their standard product pitches on the C-suite, the meeting ends quickly. The C-suite relies on their departmental selection committee members for technical engagement.

Rebalance your marketing
Times have changed, and what used to work for HealthTech marketers doesn’t work as well today. The selection process is more complex than ever and it’s crucial to rebalance your marketing strategy accordingly. Follow these three steps to stop ignoring change and start harnessing it.

Tom Dudnyk
Written by: Tom Dudnyk
August 12, 2019
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