Rimedio built an elaborate virtual marketplace to fix broken B2B healthcare sales models

Pharmaceutical and medical device sales models are changing, but it’s still getting harder and harder for companies to get face time with physicians. Richie Bavasso and Dr. Leo Herbette have a solution they think could help put trust back into the relationship among healthcare providers, manufacturers and payers. They co-founded Rimedio, a virtual e-commerce site […]

Pharmaceutical and medical device sales models are changing, but it’s still getting harder and harder for companies to get face time with physicians.

Richie Bavasso and Dr. Leo Herbette have a solution they think could help put trust back into the relationship among healthcare providers, manufacturers and payers.

They co-founded Rimedio, a virtual e-commerce site for healthcare business-to-business transactions, that’s soft-launching next month. The goal is to bring together providers, payers and manufacturers not only to socialize, but to engage in business transactions, like exchanging content, services or products.

“The original vision was a professional, regulatory-compliant social network where hospitals, payers, government and manufacturers could collaborate,” said Bavasso, a former hospital administrator and pharmaceutical marketing consultant. “But you can’t do business on that kind of site. Why can’t I, on LinkedIn, reach out to someone and say, can I show you my product? And if they’re interested, they can buy it right there.”

What’s interesting about Rimedio’s approach is that it puts healthcare providers – the customers – in control of their relationships with manufacturers.

“Industry has always controlled the conversation,” Bavasso said, by sending representatives on sales calls to physician offices. Rimedio changes the approach from vendors pushing their information to stakeholders, to those stakeholders pulling in the information, services and products that are most relevant to them.

When the platform launches, healthcare providers will be able to set up Rimedio profiles and use the platform as a single access point to interact with multiple companies, Bavasso said. They can use it to send inquiries to manufacturers, receive inquiries from companies that they want to hear from, and work with sales representatives they know and trust.

On the platform, those sales representatives are called agents. Rimedio requires all agents to pass a background check, have a demonstrated medical background and complete 13 hours of compliance and best practices training. Agents create profiles that convey their skills, experience and existing healthcare provider relationships (providers can also publicly indicate their “favorite agents” on their own profiles).

Manufacturers, then, can use the platform to post opportunities for these independent agents and hire the ones with optimal experience and relationships for that specific opportunity’s set of target customers. If a medical device company, for example, wants to recruit a focus group around a new product it’s developing for cardiologists, it would create a posting for an agent who’s well-connected within that specialty.  Companies should also like the platform, Bavasso said, because it allows them to share resources. The platform features a web conferencing tool, reporting and analytics, a payroll tool and an iPad app.

Providers, agents and manufacturers will be able to sign up for free. Rimedio will only get paid when a transaction is successfully completed and validated by the provider, Bavasso said.

The software has been built and tested; now the big question is how to attract a critical mass. “Building a software platform was a piece of cake compared to building a community,” Bavasso said.

In addition to Bavasso and Herbette, a former professor of medicine and pharma consultant, the Hartford, Conn., company’s board of directors includes medical, pharmaceutical, legal, social networking and marketing leaders including Dr. Howard Luks and digital media entrepreneur Mitchell Davis.

The launch strategy is to get a group of agents on board first, then move to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, who he hopes will be intrigued by the opportunity to hire agents for specific projects based on their experience and relationship. Then, the doctors could be persuaded to join, he reasoned.

But that’s all a bit of a question mark at this point. Will Rimedio be able to find the reps who have the access they claim to have? Will doctors come?

Rimedio will soft launch with four manufacturers and a set of agents on February 1. Bavasso said he’s hopeful that if manufacturers continue to come on board from there, the platform would be open for physicians to join by June 1.