Consumers today demand an easy and transparent experience using comparison shopping engines to browse and compare standardized product specifications to purchase cars, mortgages, hotels and flights in which it is very easy to understand the value they are receiving for the price. The exchange of transparent and standardized information (or knowledge transfer) from medical device companies to healthcare providers is a significantly different experience and it can be challenging to understand the value received for contracted price points. And given the fact that many of these devices remain implanted in patients for years, it's imperative that providers have access to information that helps them make the best clinical and business decisions possible.
Turning Tangible Information Into Intangible Product Information
Medical device companies develop and manufacture implants from tangible product specifications including material type, dimensions and design features. Marketing teams brand many of these tangible features creating intangible trademarked descriptors for competitive differentiation. This is then communicated on company websites, collateral materials, field sales teams and contracting teams to control messaging when negotiating price with hospital purchasing personnel.
The Impact on the RFP Process
Today, a common method for hospital purchasing personnel to negotiate service line pricing contracts for medical devices is the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. This process often requires medical device companies cross-reference their catalog line items to competitors “like” products by part number on Excel spreadsheets.
Provider purchasing personnel and their support team of analysts must manage thousands of inconsistently-labeled and error-prone data sourced from multiple supplier RFP submissions. It is beyond challenging for them to decipher supplier-biased cross-references and trademarked features to derive clinically relevant insight, often resulting in weeks of ongoing research for individual products and months for entire service lines.
Even after all of the necessary research has been completed, the contract negotiation process still requires multiple time-consuming supplier meetings in order to understand the value being offered to determine the true impact to the provider and patient. Unfortunately, the time and effort involved in this process to conduct a thorough evaluation of the full spectrum all potential supplier offerings can become overwhelming culminating in offline contract negotiations that leverage long-standing relationships rather than the value of the products being implanted in patients.
An Unacceptable Method to Contract Medical Devices
We believe that current methods to contract medical devices is unnecessarily complex and is an unacceptable method that ultimately promotes obscurity over clear, well-understand clinical and financial metrics. If improved patient outcomes remains the goal of providers, it is essential that the knowledge transfer process becomes more efficient, user-friendly and transparent in the competitive and ever-changing medical device marketplace.
If consumers have easy access to transparent vehicle information to research, make a purchase and have a new car delivered with a few clicks, should it be so challenging to access unbiased product specifications, objective cross-references, and relevant clinical information that could improve clinical and economic medical device selection and drive down overall costs to patients?