Hitting the show floors running

Edition: July 2009 - Vol 17 Number 07
Article#: 3215
Author: Brian Taylor

This Fourth of July, I plan to take some time off, sit by the pool, enjoy a visit from my daughter who lives on the West Coast, and overall, catch my breath and prepare for the second half of what certainly has been a crazy year.

The first half of the “Meeting Season” has concluded. From March to June, between the HIDA Executive Conference and a host of distribution national meetings, it seems that the community of suppliers leaves each other at the end of one meeting and sends each other off with the message of “see you next week” at the next one. I was one of those on the grand tour this year and I was especially interested in observing the mood and behavior of both the distributors and the manufacturers as we collectively face the challenges of the economic downturn.

Attention was focused on a number of key issues. At the top of the list was how the economy and the “stimulus” package will affect physician practices. Also high on the list were the financial pressures facing physicians, particularly those in primary care; the growing shortage of primary care physicians; and the imminent perfect storm of baby boomers in need of more attention from primary care doctors.

Healthcare reform undoubtedly will be the main topic of legislative battles this summer and fall in Congress and across the country. EHR adoption is front and center of almost any plan being discussed with delays in adoption resulting in even further reductions in reimbursements, certainly not something struggling physicians can afford.

One of the main questions on everyone’s minds was, “So how’s your business holding up?” Responses were mostly positive, with several market specific issues (capital equipment for example). While capital goods may have been a troubled sector, it was encouraging to witness the proactive approach both distributors and suppliers were taking to minimize the pain. From better training and educational efforts to altering the selling proposition into a consultative and comprehensive practice analysis, the creativity and effectiveness of a new approach is borne from necessity.

The activity on the floor of these exhibit halls seemed encouraging. I sensed energy and witnessed many productive business meetings taking place both on and off the floors. One noticeable difference was that there was a lot more focus on business and less on the social/entertainment events that historically have been key elements in meetings of this nature. I would guess that for all involved it may be seen as a welcome change in the form of lower costs and shorter meetings.

I am certainly no economic forecaster or market guru, but I do know that I have never been busier with my activities. (Or as people here at MDSI whisper, “the old guy is finally working again!”) I like to look at that fact as a positive harbinger for the rest of this year and for the rebound we all hope to be part of in 2010!