eNews June 2, 2020

The latest news affecting you and your customers… from the Independent Medical Specialty Dealers Association

How is COVID-19 affecting your business, your people, your customers? IMDA is a membership organization, and in times like these, we can all use some camaraderie. If you have a COVID story to share, advice to offer, or a warning to sound, send it to Mark Thill, IMDA’s communications director, at mdthill1913@gmail.com, with the subject line “IMDA COVID story.” We’ll compile them and send them back out to you.

Here are four takeaways from the Dee Donatelli webinar hosted by IMDA on May 28. Donatelli is current chair of the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) and past president of the Association of Healthcare Value Analysis Professionals (AHVAP). An RN, she is a valued speaker to IMDA.


Because of COVID-19, new and secondary relationships are of the utmost importance to supply chain executives. Many supply chain folks with whom Donatelli has spoken say they can no longer rely on their primary or secondary distributor to get needed supplies. That spells opportunity for smaller independent dealers.


The message for IMDA members: Be professionally assertive. Be persistent. Validate that you are an authorized dealer (keeping in mind that hospitals are wary of callers, as COVID-19 has brought many ne’re-do-wells out of the woodwork). Establishing, maintaining and strengthening relationships has never been more important.


This will come as no news to IMDA members: Hospitals are busy. Value analysis has, in many cases, been put on hold. In fact, some value analysis professionals are themselves hunting for scarce supplies during COVID-19, with little or no time to vet new technologies. Meanwhile, materials management employees are finding it cumbersome to work from their homes with little or no access to their health system’s materials management information systems.


Even after things have calmed down, IMDA members will need to perfect their ability to communicate pertinent information to value analysis and materials management customers succinctly and, most likely, virtually.


After several months of no-visitor policies, hospitals might have permanently lost their appetite for visits from sales reps. Donatelli predicts that fewer than 50 percent of sales reps will be allowed in hospitals after COVID-19.


For IMDA members: Figure out how to succeed in a virtual selling environment. Make sure you know how decisions are made in your customers’ facilities, then get creative. Try videoconferencing; clinicians may prefer it. (Hospitals will have to make some changes too, like relaxing their firewalls so they can view suppliers’ YouTube presentations.)


Finally, and most important, remember: “Virtual” doesn’t mean “anonymous!” Be mindful of how your customers want to work with dealers. But at the same time, strengthen the trusted relationships you already have, and build new ones. Be professionally aggressive!