Healthcare reform or not, it’s a sure thing that tomorrow’s sales reps will use technology to stay in touch with their customers. Among the start-up firms that are attempting to help them do that are SpotOn Surgical and Nurep.
The mad dash
Situations in the OR can get heated pretty quickly. “The minute equipment malfunctions, or a nurse is not well-enough trained to perform a task or get a setup correct, you have an event on your hands, especially when a patient is on the table under anesthesia,” says Glenn Mills, president, SpotOn Surgical. The doctor screams, “Get the sales rep on the phone,” and the mad dash begins.
Mills is a former Medtronic rep and director of sales and services, who, along with medical services entrepreneur Tom Pfleider and neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Sheinberg, founded SpotOn Surgical in 2011. The company provides perioperative areas with an iPad that acts as a digital reference library for devices and equipment from multiple suppliers, and allows the OR staff to request immediate live assistance from the appropriate sales rep or customer support team.
In May 2013, Veran Medical Technologies – a St. Louis, Mo.-based soft-tissue navigation company – signed on with SpotOn to offer virtual customer support during navigation procedures for the lung, liver and kidneys. SpotOn hopes to be installed in more than 100 hospitals by the end of the first quarter 2014, says Mills.
SpotOn “fulfills a true need in a perioperative environment that has limited in-person support from representatives while using the most advanced medical technology in the world,” says Mills, citing a study in The British Medical Journal showing that technology mishaps account for one in four operating room errors. “We believe we can improve on this with better organized training materials and immediate remote support when necessary.”
A tactic, not a process
In today’s OR, when circulating nurses have a question for the sales rep, they typically get on the phone. If the rep doesn’t pick up, the nurse might call the rep’s company and hope someone at headquarters can answer the question. Last resort? The nurse takes a photo with his or her cellphone and sends it to the rep, who picks it up later and gets back to the nurse. “It’s really not a process,” says Paul Schultz, co-founder, Nurep. “It’s a tactic.” It’s not secure, nor does it help the nurse and surgical team who need an answer on the spot during a procedure.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Nurep has developed a mobile health platform for medical device companies, which allows on-demand virtual support to the operating room staff. The application, initially developed for iOS devices, is being pilot-tested with several medical device companies and hospitals in the United States, though Schultz did not name them. The application will initially be sold to manufacturers through software-as-a-service-based contracts.
Nurep is marketing its application for on-demand remote medical device support to healthcare providers, but at some point, manufacturers could use it to remotely detail new technologies, Schultz says.
“We are transforming the medical device support model from a one-to-one to a one-to-many relationship, building a connected network of healthcare providers and medical device representatives,” says Schultz.