Health IT

Medical device VP: What healthcare customers ask us for before buying a new technology


Healthcare craves innovation, but with innovation comes a certain amount risk. So when it comes to purchasing a new, innovative technology, healthcare providers, researchers and companies will naturally want to take a very close look.

STERIS Corp. (NYSE:STE), for one, opened a Customer Solutions Center in July 2011 at its Mentor, Ohio, headquarters as a place where customers could see all of its existing offerings and get a glimpse at future projects. In its healthcare division, the company makes infection prevention, perioperative and GI/endoscopy solutions for a customer base of hospitals, researcher institutions, distributors, pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies.

Tim Chapman, senior vice president and group president for healthcare, has noticed a few common requests from potential customers that may also ring true for other manufacturers with similar customers:


Independent research: Chapman said customers prefer to see independent, third-party research–rather than research paid for by the manufacturer–that demonstrates efficacy of the product. In the post-reform, post-Sunshine Act world of healthcare, he sees it as standard operating procedure to have that kind of credible research available for customers.

Show me where it’s been beta-tested: Customers also want to see that a product has been tested over a significant period of time. Thanks in part to an increase in physician interest in pursuing research, neither this nor the research component has been a problem for STERIS, Chapman said.

Put your money where your mouth is: Adopting a new technology is risky and customers often ask vendors to enter into some form of risk-sharing agreement. Chapman expressed caution in this area. Risk sharing in itself is a contentious proposition and canTim-Chapman Steris put a company and its customers on different sides of the table, he said. If the product doesn’t work as the customer anticipated, for example, was the technology flawed, or was it the business’ implementation and use that affected the efficacy of the product? STERIS will consult with potential customers about new technology adoption and allow them try a product for a few weeks. If the trial is successful, the customer pays for the product; if not, an alternative solution is sought.

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