The pandemic recovery is underway, but med-tech commercial execs fear it won’t be business as usual. A notable power struggle is playing out in hospital operating rooms across the country. As surgeons begin to perform elective procedures again, they aren’t always pleased about who’s writing the safety rules tied to expanding O.R. volume. From 2019 to 2020, the volume of surgical procedures declined by 11.3 million, or 12%. The backlog is expected to push volume up by 28% in 2021 – that represents nearly 22.5 million more procedures.
“COVID-19 gave institutions a reason not to let reps in,” said Marcus Girolamo, VP of marketing/business development for wound care product maker Urgo Medical. “People assume this is happening as a result of pandemic-related safety concerns. In many ways, accounts have been waiting for the opportunity to kick people out.”
The solution is for the sales model to evolve, which is very challenging for a business that’s so heavily relationship-based. Ultimately, marketing “will settle into a mixed approach, especially for the institutions – hospitals, outpatient departments – where there’s an expectation that you’re there maybe not as often but present in a digital way because it’s more efficient.”
The expectation is that the backlog of elective surgeries will start taking place in the second quarter, and that hospitals will need more than a little time to recoup the billions of dollars in losses suffered due to the 2020 lockdowns. During that adjustment period, reps may or may not be welcomed back into the surgical suite.