Smart finger

Nonin Medical, Inc., the inventor of finger pulse oximetry, announced that its Nonin 3230 Bluetooth® Smart finger pulse oximeter was selected as one of 12 finalists for the 2014 Bluetooth Breakthrough Awards Program. The award is sponsored by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) and recognizes products launched in 2013 that are innovative, easy-to-use, convenient, reliable and have a large market appeal.


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The Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and biologicals to collect, track and report certain payments and items of value given to physicians and teaching hospitals. But Repertoire readers say it really hasn’t affected their sales approach.


Alan Grogan, president, Grogan’s Healthcare Supply, Lexington, Ky.: “Previous policy and guidelines with respect to entertainment, dinners, gifts etc. had already reduced if not yet eliminated the sorts of payments or gifts that will now need to be reported.  So, no, our interaction hasn’t really changed as a result, though the burden of reporting will make us even more cautious about actions that will require reporting.”


Gina Marchese, senior vice president, sales and marketing, MMS – A Medical Supply Company: MMS has really seen minimal impact. The Sunshine Act is really more tailored to manufacturers than distributors. Frankly, our margins have never allowed MMS, or most distributors, to employ this practice.


Ty Ford, general manager, Healthcare Services, Henry Schein Medical: From a sales perspective, we believe it will have an impact on the market, but to what extent remains to be seen. Henry Schein has always focused on the customer, and this is just another dynamic to which we are adjusting. When we engage customers, we typically find they’re unsure of how it will impact them. As we get more into it, we will take on the responsibility of educating our customers, just as we do with anything else.


Bob Ortiz, vice president, sales, physician office division, Medline Industries. We at Medline are very serious about adherence to the Sunshine Act and all healthcare regulatory policies. We have a detailed compliance program that we closely follow. We are regularly training via webinars, sales meetings, sales training classes, etc. We also closely monitor and track expenses and interactions in this area in accordance with the regulations.


Alexandra Caldwell, director of sales and marketing, Claflin Company. Our reps are definitely aware of it. But it is more for manufacturers, and more for companies that pay physicians for something, e.g., to act as a spokesperson for a product. If we do bring food in for a breakfast meeting with the doctor and staff, so we can educate staff members about a product, our reps know where the line is drawn, and that’s really all we ask. If they are trying to do something along these lines, we have them run it through management.


John Rademacher, president, ambulatory care, Cardinal Health. We did go through a significant amount of training around the Sunshine Act – what it means, and what our sales team’s responsibility is – to ensure they are in compliance. We feel we’re in a good position. But we continue to reinforce the training, and put systems in place to ensure our teams are working to the highest standards.

In the March issue, Repertoire asked a number of sales professionals to talk about how reform is affecting their customers and how they are responding. Participants were:


  • Alan Grogan, president, Grogan’s Healthcare Supply.
  • Gina Marchese, senior vice president, sales and marketing, MMS – A Medical Supply Company.
  • Patrick Balistreri, field sales consultant; and Ty Ford, general manager, Healthcare Services, Henry Schein Medical.
  • Bob Ortiz, vice president, sales, physician office division, Medline Industries.


The following is one of the questions asked. For the complete article, visit


Repertoire: In light of healthcare reform, do the majority of your physician practice customers anticipate an influx of patients in the year(s) ahead? Decrease? No big change? What can you as a sales rep do to help them respond?


Grogan: I think physicians still don’t quite know what to expect at this point. They hear both sides of the current debate, neither of which can be fully trusted. Common sense says they should expect they will be asked to do more – see more patients – with less  –lower reimbursement – along with everyone else in the system. Medicaid is already the predominant payer in parts of our market, and nearly 80 percent of the early ACA enrollees in Kentucky went on Medicaid, so that system will be under greater pressure. As suppliers, we have to figure out ways to help them do more for less, with greater efficiency internally, and with products focused on outcomes but not with premium price tags, none of which are that easy.


Balistreri: One community health center in my territory is expecting an influx of patients, and they are responding by building a new, larger facility and adding staff. My primary care and internal medicine customers are also looking at an influx of patients, though it depends on location. Some practices in the city are expecting more newly insured patients because of the Affordable Care Act, but others, such as those in the suburbs, are not so sure, because many of their patients already have insurance. Those health centers and practices that are anticipating more patients are either adding physician partners, or they are bringing on more physician assistants and nurse practitioners.


Ford: The anticipation of more patients is another factor driving acquisitions, strategic partnerships and strategies at the IDN level. They’re looking at it from a cost-to-serve perspective, and are asking themselves, “How can we see more patients without increasing our top line?” In the past, they assumed the primary care setting would accommodate growth; today, they’re adding new specialties and getting into markets they weren’t in before, such as freestanding ERs.


Ortiz: Most of our customers are expecting a significant increase in patient traffic. Our sales force must respond to this with technology solutions and operational efficiencies.



By Bob Miller


The Super Bowl and sales: both call for an excellent game plan.


Athletics has many similarities to professional sales:  

  • You need an excellent game plan before you call on a customer.
  • You must be confident in your ability to get the job done.
  • You need a positive attitude that says to your customer ‘I am the right person to buy from.’
  • You need the Want To that says to your customer, ‘Why not buy from me? I am here to earn your business.’
  • Preparation, Preparation, Preparation.  If you are prepared, your chances of success will rise dramatically.


Ask the Seattle Seahawks following their Super Bowl performance.


The Denver Broncos entered the Super Bowl with the most prolific offense in the history of the NFL, facing Seahawks’ top-ranked defense. Seattle also had the youngest roster. It’s really an amazing story when we analyze it. Denver set the all-time passing yardage this past season, with 5,477 yards, breaking Tom Brady’s record from the previous year. Peyton Manning also set a record for touchdowns this season – 55. In addition, he received his fifth MVP award. Denver was considered the offensive machine. No huddle offense, spread formation sets or receivers who – once they caught the mid-range pass – could move up the field with yardage.


How did Seattle have a chance at winning?


Tremendous preparation, which gave them confidence in their attitude.


We could see it in their body language and hear it in their voices when they were being interviewed, both pre- and post-game. They had a quiet confidence about them. And, the coaches did an excellent job in their game plan to stop arguably the best quarterback of our time.


The competitive nature to be the best is what drives us all. We may not always win, but it’s worth taking the chance. The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. That’s life. We never reach the thrill of victory if we don’t put ourselves out there. It’s the competitive spirit that fuels most people in sales. See you out in the field…


Editor’s note: Bob Miller is vice president of sales at Gericare Medical Supply, Inc.


Most companies fear competition, best-selling author Seth Godin surmises in a recent blog. But not all. In fact, he references a few companies who embraced the competition by entering established markets with something fresh.


Some organizations, though, work to find competition instead of fleeing from it. If you have a system, a point of view and a process for growth, then a market that already exists is your friend, the next place you can grow. And so, for example, small chains like Five Guys and Shake Shack are happy to set up shop right next to fast food places that might represent competition.

This is one reason Amazon’s efficiencies are so fearsome–they prefer to start in a market with competition.


Read In Search of Competition


Who do you think will win in the Monday Night BCS game?

  • The Tide (57%)
  • The Irish (43%)
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