Changing environment for medical device companies? Differentiate now or fail later

  • Posted on 30.05.2011

Changing environment for medical device companies? Differentiate now or fail later


Ulrika Hagle

Managing Director Medical Devices EMEA Korn/Ferry International

differentiate now

Korn/Ferry International and Eucomed are co-organising the upcoming “How to differentiate in a changing environment?” conference taking place on 5 July 2011 in Brussels.

We have worked closely together to design an exciting programme that will give participants a broad view on the future from a health economic point of view, but the various sessions will also discuss what hospitals are looking for from medical device companies. In addition, we have invited accomplished speakers representing other industries’ perspectives and experiences. In short, this meeting is designed to allow the exchange of experience and ideas, and see what is done in other industries to help medical device companies enhance their competitiveness and remain healthy businesses.

Having been specialised in recruiting for medical device companies for many years, I can see that this industry has enjoyed fast growth for many years but is now facing tougher times. This can be explained by the fact that the medical device industry is operating in a drastically changed environment with reduced government funding exacerbating the difficulties. On the customer side, the decision-making is shifting from physicians to procurement departments. I believe that more innovative strategies are required to deliver solutions that not only improve patients’ health but also reduce overall healthcare costs.

All these trends are shaping the fundamentals of how medical device companies operate and go to market. I believe that an increased cost-consciousness and a bottom-line focus will be two of the direct results of these changes. The regulatory changes will mean increased time, cost, and risk to bring new products to market as more clinical trials and outcome studies are required.

To remain competitive in this complex and fast-evolving sector, there is a clear need for medical device companies to create nimble, customer-focused organisations that can quickly capitalise on opportunities where others may fail. This often requires adjusting the organisational structure, particularly on the commercial side, to respond to market changes.

Increasingly I am being tasked with finding medical devices leaders who are change agents that will challenge the status quo and instil
a bottom-line focused culture in their companies. Most functions will also demand new sets of skills and competencies.

Given the new rules of the game in medical device sales, key account management will be a critical new skillset that many companies currently do not have in-house. However, this is something that other industries such as Information Technology have worked with since many years.

I think that medical device companies face more pressure than ever to differentiate products, provide solutions, and build brands impervious to price erosion. Marketers must be able to understand and articulate how new products improve healthcare system efficiency and reduce hospitals’ costs per episode of care. They need to better understand their customers to tailor the messages to the different customer and patient groups. All this also requires an enhanced knowledge of reimbursement systems, and a deep understanding of customers and decision-makers which today often is lacking. It is critical that marketers are able to influence both the upstream R&D process as well as downstream sales, and injecting their knowledge of customer insights into these areas to create a more customer-focused process. This will also help driving differentiation.

I hope that you will be able to join us on 5 July in Brussels to discuss this topic with seven highly regarded experts in their fields. They will offer you interesting insights and first hand experience on how their businesses have tackled some of these issues and have allowed them to remain on top of their game. It will also be a great opportunity for you to meet with senior executives from the medical device industry.

We have an interactive day full of lively debates to look forward to and I hope to see you all there!

– Ulrika Hagle Managing Director Medical Devices EMEA Korn/Ferry International

Korn/Ferry International, with a presence throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is a premier global provider of talent management solutions. Based in Los Angeles, the firm delivers an array of solutions that help clients to attract, deploy, develop and reward their talent.

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