Marketing: Medical Devices vs. Pharma - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Marketing: Medical Devices vs. Pharma

Pharmaceutical Executive


Give your doctors/facilities an "edge." What can a device do that a drug can't? It can give healthcare professionals a competitive edge. Once surgeons or hospitals are trained and equipped to offer a specific diagnostic machine, surgical system, or implant, devices can offer something unique that the practice next door cannot.

To hone in on these advantages, let's first take a broad look at some of the complexities of device reimbursement. When implants are reimbursed, the process is not as straightforward as with a drug schedule.

First, there are numerous cost codes, each reimbursed at different rates. For example, there's a cost for the device itself (HCPCS code), a cost for someone to put the device in the body (CPT code), and a cost for the facility resources surrounding the procedure (ICD-9 code). Each of these audiences has to be addressed in your communications.

Second, not all implants are covered by managed care. Women who want breast implants, for example, generally have to pay out of pocket. Similarly, advanced technologies like prosthetic limbs are only partially reimbursed, so a patient who wants to upgrade from the basic model to a more advanced device may be required to purchase additional coverage. So cost must be taken into consideration.

Third, equipment usually isn't directly reimbursed by managed care at all. An outpatient clinic or a hospital might use a capital expenditure budget or operational budget to purchase the device, with the intent of recouping that cost through procedural fees or diagnosis-related group (DRG) reimbursement. Because equipment is considered an investment in a medical business, such as a private practice or an inpatient facility, messages must target purchasing agents, and offer a sound rationale for the investment.

Implants and equipment can, however, deliver major advantages to healthcare providers and facilities by generating better outcomes and/or unique approaches to, or treatment in, their local areas. These advantages may include:

Adding value to physicians by helping their practices perform with better clinical success.

Offering patient training and education materials to supplement a healthcare provider's efforts.

Delivering specific tools for a practice's self-promotion by supporting the group's advertising, PR, and gateway referral efforts.

Not every type of device or organization has the liberty of offering these kinds of support, however. Some brands may be required to keep the focus on clinical benefit only.


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