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MTS Blog: Why Do You Have To Go And Make Things So Complicated?

Stop any person on the street and ask to see their phone.  Chances are they can whip it right out, or they already have it in hand as they use a navigation app to find their way.  Mobile phones have become almost an extension of a person and are certainly a required tool of modern life.

In the medical device industry, although every sales rep has a cell phone with them at all times, mobile phones are still not used as efficiently and effectively as they could be to manage cases and inventory tracking, ordering, and replenishment.  Many sales reps are, unfortunately, at the mercy of manufacturing companies employing antiquated case and medical inventory management systems held together by spreadsheets, paper, and a wing and a prayer.  For those lucky enough to be working at companies that understand the value of modern technology, sales reps often suffer the two major ills of application design: overdesign and platform partisanship.

There are a fair number of manufacturers that spent the time and money to build a custom mobile app for sales reps to manage various processes.  These apps are often developed with input from a number of different departments with lots of ideas.  The end product is an app with extensive reporting capability, exhaustive options, and all the bells and whistles.  But, after a short period of interest, the reps go back to their old way of doing business.  If mobile phone apps are so great then why don’t the reps quickly adopt the new tech?  It’s pretty clear.  Apps that are overdesigned are cumbersome.  They load slowly, and all those accoutrements are actually hard to handle on a hand held device.

Many of these Do-It-Yourself apps have a second problem in that they only work on the Apple mobile operating platform (iOS) or only use Google technology.  Sales reps want to be able to use any phone they choose, and they need the ability to jump from one platform to another with ease.  Apps that require reps to choose a different platform than they are familiar with or make it more complicated to move from laptop to tablet to phone will not be as readily accepted by busy sales reps.

The key to building a mobile app that sales reps will elect to learn and actually use is simplicity.  But, simplicity in app development requires more time, effort, and discipline than one might think.  The best apps, those that become second nature to sales reps, handle only the critical, time-sensitive tasks that have to be done at the point of care, such as checking of inventory, case scheduling, and gathering of signatures, etc.  All the other tasks – reporting, forecasting, back-end operations, etc. – are managed on the web-based program at another time. 

Features of a mobile app that inspires rampant adoption include:

  • Easy to learn because it is robust yet simple
  • Big buttons to make it easy to handle in the operating room with rubber gloves
  • Fast because the system is efficient and limits the number of steps
  • Compatible with a variety of platforms and devices

Sales reps are creatures of habit.  They are often harried in their professional lives and are unable or unwilling to take the time to learn a new way of working if the benefits are not evident.  But, a mobile phone app that streamlines processes, eliminates paperwork, and increases time to sell will be hard for even the most reticent converts to ignore. 

There was a time when getting somewhere new necessitated Map Quest   print outs flapping in breeze.  Now a navigation app can be found on every phone, making everyone just a little less lost.  Sales reps are in search of that same simplicity and certainty in the tool they use every day to make a living.