Devices & Diagnostics

Healthcare marketers need to learn the language of hospital administrators

Physicians and hospital administrators are two different species when it comes to healthcare marketing. Now, more than ever, it’s important for companies — be it medical device manufacturers or others — to learn the language of hospital administrators who worry about cost in a way that doctors, who prize safety and efficacy, don’t. That advice […]

Physicians and hospital administrators are two different species when it comes to healthcare marketing.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for companies — be it medical device manufacturers or others — to learn the language of hospital administrators who worry about cost in a way that doctors, who prize safety and efficacy, don’t.

That advice comes from the folks at StoneArch Creative, a medical device marketer in Minneapolis that has worked with the likes of Medtronic, 3M Healthcare and St. Jude Medical. They believe that as medical device manufacturers sell in saturated markets, sometimes marketing products that have become commoditized, special attention needs to be paid to hospital administrators who have a laser-like focus on cost.

“The physician audience is still going to be key and central, and critical in most of the decision making. But what we are doing with our clients is help them to focus on the economic buyer because they are helping influencing that decision and … need to be communicated on a different level,” said Jessica Boden, who was recently named president of StoneArch.

So what should companies be doing?

Large companies should think about segmenting their sales force so that some of them are trained to address the concerns that administrators have, Boden said.

Those concerns typically revolve around cost, explained Cassie Benowitz, account supervisor at StoneArch.

The economic buyer would be interested in things like how can this product be bundled with another product, how much time is it going to save the physician in the OR or the lab so that we can get more procedures done in a day, how does this product reduce the likelihood that this patient is ever going to be back in my hospital?” Benowitz said. “They are looking at things that will in effect have cost savings and affect the bottom line.”

So what strategies are companies employing to help answer these questions?

One trend that Benowitz is noticing revolves around secondary endpoints in designing clinical studies.

“If you design a clinical trial, it’s still going to be about safety and efficacy, and those are going to be your primary endpoints — those are the things that physicians really care about. But we are seeing clinical trials with secondary endpoints looking at time to completion, repeat procedures, need for followup,” Benowitz said. “That helps to message to secondary audience.”

The advice from Boden and Benowitz come at a time of uncertainty in the healthcare marketplace and the financial challenges that hospital administrators must contend with. A Thomson Reuters survey of  Top 100 Hospitals from August found that the biggest challenge of hospital CEOs will be reimbursement cuts and payment changes coming out of healthcare reform.