When Cutting Edge Counts

Edition: April 2014 - Vol 22 Number 04
Article#: 4469
Author: Repertoire

Considering the wide range of patients OB/GYN specialists care for – from adolescents to pregnant women to those in menopause and post-menopause, it’s clear they have a lot to consider. And, as they look to deliver the highest quality care to their patients, who better to help them do so than the distributor sales reps.

For the reps, this means providing solutions that help physicians perform more – and more sophisticated – procedures and diagnostics within the office setting. Particularly given that many patients prefer the familiarity of their doctor’s office to the sterility (and expense) of a hospital setting, an up-to-date, well-equipped practice can reach more patients than an outdated one. When sales reps know the products and understand their customers’ needs, they can help them meet their patients’ expectations.

What’s new?

In many ways, OB/GYN specialists are performing many of the same tests and procedures they have in years past, including Pap tests, fetal monitoring for antepartum pregnant patients, cryosurgery, LEEP and more. However, subtle changes in technology have yielded great gains in quality of care.

A good example is the Colposcope (a magnifying and photographic device used for examining the uterine cervix, often for early signs of cancer). While its basic function hasn’t changed, the quality of optics is much improved and the halogen lighting on older devices has been replaced by cooler and brighter LED lighting. Imaging, too, has advanced from analog cameras on older colposcopes, to digital imagery, which yields higher quality images that can be stored in patients’ electronic medical records. Some colposcopes are equipped with a zoom optics, which provides continuous viewing when the user is switching from one size image to another. (In other words, when the physician enlarges the image, the screen does not turn black between images.)

Similarly, at first glance, cryosurgery (the application of extreme cold to destroy abnormal or diseased tissue) remains relatively unchanged. However, today’s delivery systems feature more efficient freezing technology, as they use Co2 or nitrous oxide gas for cooling. In fact, cryosurgery has become increasingly diversified and is now used for dermatological procedures as well.

With regard to LEEP (loop electrical excision, a procedure that uses a thin, low-voltage electrified wire loop to cut out abnormal tissue), advances in the technology have been internal and, as such, invisible to the user. But doctors today can count on solid-state circuitry.

And, today’s sophisticated fetal monitors (specialized ultrasound equipment used to monitor the heartbeat of a fetus and maternal contractions for prenatal care) can record and store wave patterns in a patient’s file. New fetal monitors offer a screen to visibly monitor fetal heart rate and uterine contractions. They also provide the capacity to print out data, as well as the ability to store information in a digital format for EMR record keeping, ensuring the physician properly records and retains antepartum fetal/maternal information, even in the case of twins.

Time for a change

Your customers may find their older equipment continues to work well. But, that doesn’t mean they’re not due for an upgrade. On one hand, because much of the equipment and devices that OB/GYNs use have few moving parts, they can last five years or longer. However, upgrading to newer technology not only affords them improved optics and better light sources, but the capacity to transfer information electronically. Advanced technology enables doctors to provide greater patient care – without leaving the office setting.

Cost, too, may be an issue for some doctors. True, a handheld OB Doppler might start at $500, but the price rises depending on the level of sophistication it offers. Similarly, a colposcope that features all the bells and whistles, and the highest quality images, can easily cost $12,000. It all comes down to the quality and level of patient care the doctor is looking to deliver, note experts.

Distributor sales reps should ask some probing questions, such as the following, to determine their customers’ needs:

• “Doctor, are you looking to upgrade your office?”

• “Does your current equipment offer the most advanced in optics, imaging, lighting and digital capability?”

• “Does your current equipment permit you to provide the most advanced care to the greatest number of patients?”

• “Are you willing to sacrifice quality for cost?”

Sales reps should remind OB/GYNs that in the near future all physician offices will be mandated to switch to electronic medical records. Newer, digital women’s health equipment will allow them to do so. In addition, many procedures are reimbursable, helping physicians pay off their purchases. For practices that belong to a health system, reps should discuss whether the health system is standardizing equipment and, if so, whether the practice is prepared.

In the end, it comes down to helping physician customers perform more procedures, confidently and efficiently, in the office setting. Once physicians understand that manufacturer training is available (although it varies from company to company), they may be more amenable to updating their practice.

A cutting edge practice is more likely to attract more patients, note experts. And, sales reps who can bring their customers’ practice to the next level are more likely to gain their trust.

Editor’s note: Repertoire would like to thank Wallach for its assistance with this article.