Editor’s Comments

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Get the message across

We hear a lot about innovation in the medical technologies sector. But is it technical, service or commercial innovation? Is it science or is it healthcare? Above all, is it good business? This issue of On Target is focused on market access and consumer awareness.

We start by looking at a key area of medtech innovation: the PACS revolution and its value to modern healthcare. Digital imaging, available instantly via the Internet, means rapid and accurate diagnosis, increasing the pace and quality of patient processing. It also assists the transfer of medical data between the hospital, the GP surgery and the community. The rollout of PACS across the NHS is vital to achieving the 18-week target.

The bottom line is that because this technology works effectively in the context of the present-day healthcare system, it is marketable. With this in mind, we follow on with a hard look at what market access really means. Medtech industry expert Trevor Lewis explores a question that can be relied on to make the zealous innovator stop and think: Who is your first customer?

As Lewis explains, the first real customer is “not the favoured clinician who kindly tested your product, your friends or those who will always buy from you,” but rather “an independent prospect who has to be located and sold to, and who buys at the planned price and is serviced by the designed business model.” Finding that customer takes more than a hot new product: it takes the combined skills of product design, marketing, sales, distribution and customer service.

This holistic business perspective is explored further in our interview with Chris Fuller of the Healthcare Design and Technology Institute, who explains the value of consumer awareness to healthcare marketing and sales. Patient choice in the NHS, better-informed patients, the ageing population and the shift of healthcare into the community are all reasons why medtech companies need to target the patient as well as the clinician. As the NHS moves closer to the patient, the industry needs to be one step ahead.

Finally, we look at another organisation concerned with helping medtech companies to access and build markets: Michelle Dalton of Medilink West Midlands discusses her role as a business facilitator and information provider. In a sector where suppliers are as diverse as products, and sales models are as diverse as patient pathways, effective networking is the soul of good business.

Whether we’re talking about new medical technologies, market access, patients or customers, it all comes down to one principle: If you don’t get your message across, you don’t make money. Which is where you, as a healthcare sales or marketing professional, came in. We hope you’ll find much in this issue to inform, inspire and amuse you.

Chris Ross
Editor