No matter what the combination of factors, success is fleeting in a fast-paced world. Heaven forfend your online numbers dip, for example (not as successful today as you were last month?). The winning formula—if there is such a thing—is an amalgam of variables, and most of them are out of our direct control. What we can control, however, is how hard and how smart we work.
The July/August issue is our annual Top Company report, in which we examine 30 of the world’s largest medtech firms. Just as in years past, we categorize the list based on reported financial data. While that gives us a starting point for a discussion, it’s only a small part of what makes these companies—and the medical device industry as a whole—tick. Accomplishment, of course, doesn’t just come from billion-dollar revenue streams. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just approved a startup’s first device that also happens to have a solid reimbursement pathway, the executive team of the small firm is feeling pretty well-off—though there hasn’t yet been a single sale. Money is a byproduct of success.
In compiling all of the data required to create this year’s Top Company installment, I continued to think about the topic of success, the factors that drive it in today’s medtech marketplace, and what its recipe really is. Increasingly, companies with the resources and foresight are going beyond the outmoded model of claiming market share with one type of technology and its clinical benefit alone. Today, the winning mixture is technology that moves past improved clinical outcomes at one point along the value chain, but also helps healthcare systems manage costs, keeps patients from returning to the hospital with complications, can track a patient’s progress remotely and ultimately saves the entire system time and money in the long term. Savvy companies know that doctors aren’t the sole purchasing decision-makers they once were. Hospital chains are making more centralized procurement decisions.
As such, there is pressure on medical device companies not only to establish clinical efficacy, but also to combine it with improved economics.
According to a recent blog post by Sharon Fong, a brand strategist with Level Brand, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based healthcare-focused advertising, marketing and communications firm that works with companies such as 3M, Beckman Coulter Inc. and Medtronic plc, medical device companies need to change their game because there’s no longer a “cookie-cutter formula” for success.
“Every aspect of the healthcare industry has to rethink their way of doing business. And, because healthcare today is so fluid, most healthcare and related industries are still figuring it out, including the medical device marketing community,” Fong wrote. “Technical and clinical features of the device alone will not drive sales. Instead, hospital administrators, clinicians and payers will all be part of the equation in the selection and purchase of products that combine devices and services built around delivering solutions for everyone—patient, provider and payer.”
She writes that successful companies are the ones that understand and anticipate the continuous changes and trends in healthcare; know the competition; are category leaders with depth in the largest categories in which they operate, versus breadth across multiple categories without clear leadership positions in any; understand the individual motives for purchasing; and develop flexible marketing and sales models that solve for the different ways physicians and procurement officers approach purchasing decisions in different geographic locations.
To give medical device companies (the Top 30 and beyond) and their supplier partners the tools to meet this mandate, Medical
Product Outsourcing is returning to Utah for the MPO Summit (www.mposummit.com), held Sept. 29-30 at the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City. At the heart of the education and networking event are sessions designed to: address the changing healthcare landscape and how it is reshaping medtech innovation pathways; provide resources and skills for developing market-leading technologies; and demonstrate the best manufacturing, R&D, regulatory and business strategies to help firms compete and—yes, you guessed it—succeed.