Case Study: Improved Orthopedic Sales & Ops Communication and Self-Sufficiency

Written By

Mareo McCracken
Mareo McCracken

Share This Article

Q&A with the Operations Supervisor of a Large Independent Orthopedic Implantable Device Distributor

“[T]he service we provide to our customers is becoming more proactive instead of reactive. It’s a good thing!”

Problem

Tami B., has been an Operations Supervisor for one of the world’s largest orthopedic companies for over 20 years. For Tami, getting both the operations teams and the sales force to securely and effectively communicate business needs has always been a challenge. Reps used various methods and calendars to manage their cases and had no systematic way to view or request inventory. They relied on Tami for that information, and she had to consult multiple disparate programs to answer even the most basic of questions.

“I would have to use several systems to find requested information or to ensure we were keeping accurate internal records.”

Sales associates would often communicate usage electronically, via text message or email, or manually, via sticker sheets and handwritten faxes, even after her territory implemented a change to their process of usage submission for the sake of HIPAA compliance.

“Communication of the reps’ needs was usually handled by word-of-mouth. The rep would verbally tell surgical coordinators what he needed for the case. This led to a lot of miscommunication between these guys. It also put a ton of pressure on both the rep (to make sure he communicated everything) and the coordinator (to make sure he ‘read between the lines’ and was getting everything the rep needed).”

Tami remembers being on the phone constantly with her sales associates. Not only was this a huge time burden for Tami and her team, but it was also extremely reactive and created an environment susceptible to human error. One misspoken or illegible number or letter could have dire consequences for the patient and the business.

Solution

In 2010, Tami’s corporate executive team decided the entire country would adopt a new surgery scheduling and inventory management platform offered by the team at Movemedical.

The solution would be a complete system with many useful features:

  • Surgery Scheduler & Calendar
  • Inventory Requesting & Sourcing Tool
  • Shipping Optimizer
  • Usage Capture
  • Billing Portal

The next step would be to get everyone to use it. To help her territory with system adoption, Tami attended a training bootcamp, where she learned how to manage inventory in the new platform.

“I was one of the fortunate ones in that I was able to attend a ‘Bootcamp.’ This training made all the difference. I was ready when we went live, so the transition was pretty seamless.”

When Tami returned to her office, she trained her office team on the new system and helped to coordinate the training for her sales force. Before Tami’s distributorship went live, her entire operations team and every salesperson on her team received extensive system training.

Results

It wasn’t long before Tami realized that just about everything she needed was visible in this new system and she could access that information much faster than before. She also began to notice that she was receiving fewer phone calls throughout the day. She knew that the sales force now had visibility to their surgeries and could access much of their own information, but she hadn’t expected the results would be so immediate:

“[The hardest part was] getting your mind wrapped around the fact that the process you have been doing for years is changing. People don’t like change; however, once you open yourself up to the possibilities and power of the system, it becomes fairly easy.“

This was true even for her sales force, who were often extremely busy and were notorious for being creatures of habit. The reduction in unnecessary communication wasn’t the only positive outcome, but with their new tool, the sales force is now able to securely communicate surgery needs and usage, all through its HIPAA-compliant platform.

“Now with the preference cards and the ease of request, reps are able to ask for all the items they need with a few keystrokes. This has reduced time and elevated accountability for whose responsibility it is to anticipate the surgeon’s’ needs.”

All of this information is automatically linked to the appropriate case. External files, such as signature sheets, x-rays, templates, and other file types, can also be stored within each case.

“I really like how easy it is to link additional information into a case. Our office scans and stores all the ‘backup’ paperwork that we accumulate when working up a case. This makes the system the ‘one-stop shop’ for ALL our internal information.”

Future

Tami was recently asked what she sees for the future of orthopedic inventory management. She expects the industry to continue moving towards a leaner model approach, where measurements are taken to limit the number of implants that need to be sent for each surgery.

“In 20 years I have seen the industry move more and more to a ‘surgery in a box’ model. Every measure is being taken to anticipate the surgeon’s need before the actual event and make sure it is measured and delivered to the facility. This is progress from the ‘shotgun’ model that was common before. In the shotgun model, tons of resources were used to anticipate a doc’s needs. Now, the service we provide to our customers is becoming more proactive instead of reactive. It’s a good thing!”

She feels that there will be more energy spent in anticipating specific surgery needs and that there will be a shift in how hospitals, sales reps, and surgeons interact with their suppliers. Tami believes that she and her territory now possess the right tools and knowledge to help the distributor adapt and succeed in the ever-changing environment of orthopedic healthcare.

Related Articles

Article

7 Unrealized Key Objectives Achievable With The Right Tools and Lean Processes

Lean strategies, properly applied, allow sales and operations teams within the medical device industry to scale without adding a ton of overhead. Read More

BY Eric Huppi
Operational Excellence

Entry Level vs Enterprise: Medical Device Sales Field Enablement & Inventory Optimization

The Right Enterprise Platform Makes All The Difference When searching for the right tool, there are so many factors to consider. When you understand what is important, then everything else becomes easier. After helping many of the world’s largest enterprise med device companies with their field sales enablement and… Read More

BY Mareo McCracken
Innovation

Days of Inventory on Hand is The Future

Covering Each Surgery is Good. Accurate Par Management is Better. Days of Inventory on Hand is Best. Medical device implant inventory management is complex.  The last-mile is so unique. You have sales reps, support, and ops teams trying to work together, but often using different tools,… Read More

BY Mareo McCracken
Eric Huppi
Press Release

Press Release: Eric Huppi, Former Zimmer Biomet Executive Joins Movemedical

Eric Huppi unites with Movemedical to help medical device manufacturers automate and optimize their last-mile supply chain.  San Diego, CA, January 31, 2022 – Eric Huppi was recently appointed as the new Vice President of Product and Partner Experience at Movemedical, the leading medical device operations automation platform. This… Read More

BY Mareo McCracken