Remote Surgical Assistance: Enhancing Rep Support for the Ultimate Client Service
Bryn Davies is Global Marketing Officer at Proximie. He started his career in the medical device industry as a sales rep specialising in orthopedic trauma products at Stryker, before settling at Smith & Nephew for 12 years, ultimately taking on managerial roles with a broad view of the entire commercial operation. His MBA focused on business model innovation with digital health technologies which led to a corporate entrepreneurial role deploying new digital technologies across the value chain of surgery. His wide-ranging experience has been important in ensuring Proximie’s platform is as valuable a tool for reps as it is for surgeons.
I have around 5,000 hours of experience in surgery from my time as a medical device sales rep. If you add up the hours of experience in the entire Proximie team — including founder Nadine Hachach-Haram, who’s a practicing surgeon — we easily surpass ten times that. We understand the challenges and the pressures of the job of a sales rep, and we want to empower them to make their work more productive, efficient and safe.
In the medical device industry right now, the entire route to market — made up of two primary channels: peer to peer medical education and sales reps access — has been restricted by Covid-19. Historically, a sales rep would make physical visits to hospitals to promote the product and provide support during surgery; a highly complex role involving a lot of hard graft that often goes unseen. But what happens now that this route to market has been taken away? Sales reps are vital in terms of the relationships and the trust they have built with surgeons and the OR teams, giving them the credibility to provide invaluable, experience-based advice during surgery that helps ensure the best outcomes from their products.
“Proximie was helping support reps to maintain their relationships with the surgical teams before the pandemic. Now it has become integral to the new way of working.”
Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of new technologies in the industry, instigating change by forcing reps and medical device companies to find different ways of working — but the efficiencies of Proximie for reps are long-term, enhancing their ability to scale themselves, to connect with customers and to share their expertise in ways that they most likely couldn’t before. This is no different from the evolution from a bleep to mobile to smartphones in communicating in the most accessible and effective way possible to help provide value.
How many times has a rep been in one hospital, and then been asked if they can come to another? At times, perhaps with an inexperienced team, hospitals won’t start a procedure until they know they have all the instruments and equipment they need for that surgery — there could be hundreds of pieces of kit and the rep is required to check it all before the patient can be anaesthetised — so there are times that a rep’s absence could cause significant delays to surgery. With Proximie, however, a rep could be driving to one location and pull over to the side of the road to check and confirm using the AR tools and 4-way video feed — via the secure app — that all of the necessary equipment is present and correct.
An inside sales study revealed that 65% of field rep time was travel and admin. This reflects our data which found that approximately 30% of a rep’s time is spent travelling, 30% waiting and 20% sorting admin — leaving as little as 20% devoted to doing their actual job. By using Proximie — essentially allowing reps to be in two places at once — you are opening up a whole new world of enhanced capability that allows the 60% of time spent travelling and waiting to be redirected to providing enhanced customer service and support.
At the same time, it can be argued that the interface of Proximie offers a distinct advantage over physically being in the room during surgery. With the ability to stream four screens at once over Proximie, the rep has a greater overview of what’s going on in the theatre than they would if they were actually in the room — the rep can see all the critical elements of the operation at the same time, whereas being physically present requires them to readjust their viewpoint or be redirected to a certain area at any given time. With four screens, the rep can see clearly what step the surgeon is taking, what the scrub table is doing, what the circulating nurse is doing, and he can speak to multiple people at once — for example to tell the circulating nurse to get a certain bit of kit, because he can see the surgeon will need it in a few minutes’ time. Furthermore, imagine being able to have a dedicated one-to-one discussion through the entire case with the team in private.
Likewise, with checking the equipment prior to or immediately after the operation, I have heard of instances where Whatsapp has been used to send a series of photo messages of tools for the rep to check over. Besides the impracticality, risk of inaccuracy and time-consuming nature of this method — as compared to a live multi-view audio and video feed that enables a rep or number of reps to easily view the vast array of equipment in real time — this also raises security concerns: how do you get around the compliance of a live video feed and the staff from a GDPR perspective? Proximie addresses these issues by being fully GDPR and HIPAA compliant as well as a highly secure, encrypted data storage process, and providing a secure bubble whereby anyone viewing the operation requires login details.
None of this is to say that Proximie negates the need for reps to meet their customers face-to-face; rather it means that being physically present in one location no longer precludes reps from maintaining relationships elsewhere.
Reps can scrub into theatres while at home, while at another hospital, or even while they’re on holiday — if that’s what they want. They can deal with another customer while they’re at a hospital waiting 20 minutes for the anaesthetic to kick in before an operation.
“What Proximie makes possible is maintaining a greater number of customer relationships, more closely and more frequently than ever before — by enabling reps to utilise the time that until now has been spent waiting and travelling.”
It’s not just a platform that solves temporary problems created by Covid-19, but a solution to problems and inefficiencies that reps have been dealing with for decades.