The medical technology sector is characterised by innovation. This is true not just of how technologies are developed and manufactured – it extends equally to how products are distributed. Having observed this sector for several years, I have seen a running battle between manufacturers and distributors for control of inpatient and outpatient distribution channels. The power of some distributors is growing – so how should manufacturers respond? Certain medtech distributors have been building their bargaining power through mergers, acquisitions, and internationalisation. Some are gradually taking over roles usually played by manufacturers, such as marketing, customer support, product education – even launching their own brands. The resulting increase in their flexibility and negotiation power has caused uncertainty as to who is really in charge of serving the customers and patients. In response, growing numbers of medtech manufacturers are now thinking of expanding their direct sales activities, which often means a radical change in their business model.However, I have identified many ways to significantly improve the traditional distributor management approach without taking the enormous risks associated with changing how manufacturers operate. Terms & conditions: Steer order, payment and after-sales service behaviour through well-defined standard terms and conditions. This is often an effective starting point to implement a broader distributor management improvement program. This can be done swiftly and offers the prospect of some ‘quick wins’. Distributor discount structures: Develop and use consistent national discount schemes in line with the role and performance of each sales partner. It is important to determine whether the distributor is just a ‘box mover’ – providing logistics only – or if it is a real sales partner contributing to sales, marketing, and service. Too often I see manufacturers struggling with overly complex or inconsistent discount systems that lack steering and differentiation between different types of distributors. International...
MedTech at the World Cup
Tonight, Brazil and Croatia will kick off what promises to be a great month for football fans the world over. And what will make it extra special for us in the MedTech industry is that the first kick will be given by a paralysed teenager. This remarkable feat is made possible thanks to an exo-skeleton controlled by the teenager’s brain. While I’m sure we are still a few years away from these medical devices becoming a mainstream treatment option for paralysis, it is great to see that they get mainstream attention thanks to events like the World Cup. The Walk Again Project is headed by Duke University's Center for Neuroengineering in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich and a number of other universities and research groups worldwide. Together they are designing the exo-skeleton and a 3D printed helmet that contains a series of electrodes capable of capturing brain waves. This brain activity will then initiate the suit's movements. And exo-skeletons are not the only medical technologies making the rounds in mainstream media as of late. Great stories are popping up more and more, lately. I've already discussed it in my previous blog on how ICT-companies are entering the healthcare arena, and since then, i've seen several new articles, blogposts and videos from well-known brands touting how they are (partly) improving real people's lives. Take this video by Microsoft which was aired at the 2014 Super Bowl and gives an overview of how technology in general, and medical technology specifically has improved the lives of countless people around the world. Another remarkable video is this one from Duracell where an American Football player tells the story of how, despite being deaf, he managed to become a professional NFL player and play in the Super Bowl thanks to his hearing aid...
iWatch apple not so fast
The lure of wearable technology and its application to health is tremendous- so tremendous that even the richest company on the planet-Apple, can’t resist it apparently. And so goes the recent insider news that has captured the attention of people worldwide “Apple is developing software and sensors that can predict heart attacks”. Not so fast Apple, not so fast….
According to EDMA’s 2012 European In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) Market Statistics Report, the in vitro diagnostics market in Europe has decreased 2.2% in 2012. These results had been predicted in the previous EDMA report released for 2011, given austerity measures to cut costs in health expenditure. However, a decline in revenue for IVDs might have bad effects in the health of Europeans: there is good reason to believe that governments should invest in IVDs when trying to save money in healthcare.
With its Contract for a Healthy Future, the medical technology industry acknowledges its role and responsibility in maintaining high-quality, affordable healthcare in Europe despite an ageing population and constrained budgets. This industry commitment offers the much needed solutions to prove that innovation is not a cost driver but a facilitator for driving healthcare quality and efficiency in the future. From personalized medicine to disease monitoring, the role of the diagnostics industry will be crucial in managing healthcare spending.
Surgical devices
The upcoming MDD revision can learn a lot from a 2007 mistake in woundcare regulation. Burn wounds result in some of the most horrific pictures one can come across as a surgeon. Burn victims not only have to suffer the immediate pain associated with burn wounds, but also have to deal with often permanent scar tissue, a lifelong reminder of that terrible moment.