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MTS Blog: Sales Reps - Embracing Technology Decreases Wasted Time, Increases Productivity

Medical device sales representatives spend a significant amount of time on tasks other than selling.  Instead of scheduling more surgeries for the use of their manufacturer’s medical device products, sales reps waste countless hours driving around finding inventory, calling other reps to track down trays and kits, and locating and filling out forms and wrangling signatures.  The biggest issues faced by sales reps are difficulty tracking inventory and managing paperwork.  While most industries take advantage of technology to continue to advance, the medical device world muddles along with antiquated methods and systems.  But, technology, both online and mobile, exists to streamline processes for sales reps and enable them to be substantially more efficient and productive, which in turn benefits manufacturers.  

Efficiency Roadblocks

The job of a medical device sales rep entails selling the device and ensuring that the accompanying surgical kit is complete and ready for surgery.  As inventory is scattered among hospitals and reps, sales reps often find themselves on the hunt for kits and components.  Organized reps might track their upcoming surgeries, the kits they need, and where those kits are on a spreadsheet.  Others scramble to locate inventory stored at hospitals or at their homes or in the trunks of their cars.  Without a reliable inventory management system, sales reps are left to track inventory on their own without a link back to a centralized organization.  A comprehensive inventory management system would provide detailed tracking information either online or using a tablet or phone (iPhone or Android) in the field.

As one might imagine, medical device sales involves a tremendous amount of paperwork.  Sales reps are responsible for managing this paperwork at a variety of stages, and they do not get credit for a sale until paperwork is complete and returned to the manufacturer.  Keeping track of all these forms can be daunting, getting the required signatures can take hours a week, and faxing paperwork necessitates a follow-up phone call.  With a mobile application, sales reps can capture information on usage, gather signatures at the moment of surgery, and submit finished forms immediately.

How Technology Can Help

Online and mobile technology have helped the healthcare industry in a number of ways, but the medical device sector is just beginning to adopt these advances.  The challenge for medical device sales reps is that they spend most of their time in the field, not in a physical office, and their territories can be large.  Technology that enhances mobility while increasing efficiency and productivity is incredibly important.  The combination of online and mobile platforms enables all parties – manufacturers, distributorships, and sales reps – to have real-time tracking of medical devices and visibility by part, lot, and serial numbers and to eliminate paperwork and increase accuracy and accountability across the enterprise.  

The Time Has Come

Medical device sales reps, as a general rule, spend as much as seven to ten hours per week chasing inventory and paperwork.  To achieve a higher level of proficiency, medical device manufacturers, distributors, and sales reps will need to take the leap and partner with a company that offers a comprehensive inventory management system that can deliver real-time tracking of medical devices and biologics from manufacturer to patient.  This is a big change, but the benefits are substantial.  Reclaiming wasted sales rep time would result in increased productivity and more sales.  Better tracking of sales would also make it possible for sales reps to gauge their progress and ensure payment of commissions.  In addition to increased medical device sales, manufacturers would benefit from the tightening of inventory controls because less inventory would be unaccounted for in the field.  Other industries have enjoyed the advantages of technology for as much as a decade.  Isn’t it time for the medical device industry to join the party?    

- Megan Kontol is a Program Manager at Medical Tracking Solutions.  Before joining MTS, she was a sales rep for a medical device manufacturer.