eNews May 20, 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.

Hospitals on the brink?

Hospitals are experiencing significant volume drops in key service line areas, according to Strata Decision Technology. The sharp drop in encounters is linked to the cancellation of elective surgeries during COVID-19, along with resource constraints and ongoing concerns for the safety of patients and staff. During a two-week period in March and April, primary knee replacements were down 99%; lumbar/thoracic spinal fusions were down 81%; primary hip replacements were down 79%; and diagnostic catheterizations were down 65%. Access to clinical care for patients with life-threatening conditions declined significantly, including congestive heart failure (-55%), heart attacks (-57%) and stroke (-56%). Access by patients for chronic conditions also fell for patients, with hypertension down 37% and diabetes down 67%. The high-volume patient visits and procedures that dropped the most were for cataracts (down 97%), sleep apnea (-91%), osteoarthrosis (-88%) and glaucoma (-88%). Additionally, health screenings that are designed to provide early detection but are often seen as less urgent were down significantly in volume.

The virtual sales rep

The pressure to reduce the risk of exposure could put pressure on medical sales teams accustomed to meeting with physicians and scrubbing up for surgeries, reports Medical Design & Outsourcing. This makes it more likely that a practice adopted during the pandemic — remote calls during surgeries — could become more commonplace. Skender Daerti, CEO of The Clinician Exchange, a Parsippany, N.J.-based company that connects medical device companies to physicians, said kinks in the supply chain have opened up opportunities for smaller companies to sell their surgical systems. In some cases, the company wasn’t able to send a member of the sales support team to walk surgeons through their implants, so they had the conversation over a tablet.

Generosity has its limits

In the face of COVID-19, medical suppliers may find themselves called upon to help their customers take care of patients as well as caregivers. But in so doing, they can’t afford to stray from AdvaMed’s Code of Ethics or laws or regulations regarding compliance and corruption. In times of crisis, medical suppliers can offer support – including charitable donations of product, equipment or services, financial support and volunteer personnel – so long as the support is made without undue commercial influence, and is adequately documented.

Opening up the office?

LabCorp is launching a new return-to-work service for employers, using LabCorp’s medical staff for employee check-in health questionnaires, temperature screens, and COVID-19 test collection at the employer site. The service gives employers access to LabCorp’s COVID-19 testing solutions including its at-home collection test kit, its fingerstick antibody blood test, and in the fall, flu vaccination services.