Today I spoke with a candidate who went on a ride-along last week as part of the interview process. From the way he described it to me, I think it may have been the perfect ride-along. He got to see a good rep in action and four surgeries in one day of the same product.
Here are a few things he shared with me about his experience:
1. Although product was the same for all four cases (actually it was our new SRS system, so more than a single item), every surgery was different. In fact, he said the anatomy of each patient’s shoulder appeared different, probably in part due to the individual variations of the injuries, but also because no one’s anatomy is “textbook”.
2. Because of these differences, each surgical procedure was unique. Each case called for some variation in the technique and instruments used for the repairs.
3. The rep played a crucial role in having different instruments and solutions ready for the surgeon and his team. The candidate commented that the rep “seemed part of the (surgical) team”.
The reason I think it may have been a perfect ride-along, is because his observations highlight the learning curve inherent in becoming a successful surgical implant rep. He saw just how much surgical technique can vary from case to case, and how important it is for a rep to be on their game. Developing this level of skill as a sales rep takes study, dedication and what I like to call “time in the saddle”. Being able to problem-solve in the operating room, while remaining confident and calm, is the hallmark of a seasoned rep who is an asset to his or her customers.
A friendly blogger at FutureMedica contacted me with some free on-line courses that may be useful for readers of the Upside.
I briefly looked at some of these courses. Some were more course outlines, but I think there could be useful information to be had here for the enterprising sales person looking for to increase their knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology.
When I talk to candidates, one reason they often mention for wanting to be in medical device sales is the demographics of the aging baby boomers. The reasoning goes that because baby boomers are staying active longer, by jogging, playing sports etc, they are putting more wear-and-tear on their joints. Hence, increased demand for Sports Medicine repairs.
This is true, but there are several other factors driving demand for such products. Unfortunately, the so-called obesity epidemic also increases demand. Extra weight puts a lot of extra stress on joints.
Another contributor to increased demand is the intensity with which athletes engage in, specialize and train for sports from a younger and younger age. Thank you to the candidate who brought the following information and article to my attention:
Yesterday, I went to the AOSSM meeting in Keystone Colorado. Although I have lived in Colorado for a couple of years now, this is the first time I’ve been farther than the Eisenhower Tunnel. The morning drive into the mountains was gorgeous. Colorado has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world to live.
Perhaps because of the natural beauty outside, the traffic on the exhibition floor inside was quiet. I was told that this is not uncommon for this particular meeting, especially since many surgeons brought their families and headed out to the mountains after seeing what they were most interested in.
This was an exciting show for ConMed Linvatec, since the launch of the new Shoulder Restoration System is official. FDA approval was received a few weeks ago, and product is being rolled out across the country. Accordingly, the booth highlighted the new shoulder system.
I met some of the new people I’ve been involved with hiring recently, and reconnected with some long-time colleagues. When I arrived, I asked the two new hires from Colorado to walk me through the booth product-by-product to show me what they’ve learned so far. One of them has been on-board for only two weeks, the other about three months. I asked lots of questions about the products, including strengths and competitive advantages. It was a good learning experience for me, and good practice for the new reps. It think they did a great job.
The shoulder system is a fantastic addition to our product line. The leadership and direction of our new president was a major impetus behind bringing this product through the development process so quickly. R&D and marketing have done a fantastic job. There are superior and patented features that are part of the system which will contribute to its success in the marketplace.
The sales force is thrilled to have this product in their bag, and I believe their customers are going to be too. I watched as a surgeon tried out the product. One of our marketing folks walked him thru step-by-step as he “implanted” the device. From my observation, the surgeon seemed impressed by the product features and ease of use.
The head of R&D for sports medicine was kind enough to give me an overview of the major competitors’ products, comparing and contrasting ConMed Linvatec’s system to theirs. As a recruiter, I am often asked about our competitive advantages, and it was great for me to learn more about this new system. The launch of the SRS goes to the heart of ConMed Linvatec’s future as a company.
I also learned from him about “booth etiquette”: do not step onto the carpeted areas of competitor’s booths, don’t gawk, and never handle your competitors’ products or instruments at the show. Violation of these rules mean that your company could be sanctioned, and your booth demoted to a less favorable location at the next year’s show.
Still, I walked the floor of the convention hall several times, observing the people as much as the displays. Almost all of ConMed Linvatec’s direct competitors were present, plus a range of other companies, perhaps 50 or more vendors in total.
It was a terrific day. I can’t wait to see the impact the new SRS will have in the coming months.
This Friday, I will be attending the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine meeting in Keystone, CO. I will have updates from the meeting. If you will be in attendance, please feel free to reach out to me to let me know. LMcCallister@Linvatec.com
For more information on this meeting and association, visit the AOSSM website.
There has been a lot of talk about the green jobs, a “clean energy economy” and reducing one’s carbon footprint. Recent college graduates are interested in working for green companies, and consumers have begun to demonstrate their willingness to consider the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions.
Being green is not new to ConMed Linvatec. The operations group has really lead the way, starting with a strong commitment to Kaizen that dates back to the 1990′s. At that time, we were all big fans of the book Lean Thinking. As part of the operations group, I participated in a number of Kaizen events. I understand that Kaizen is an integral part of manufacturing operations at Conmed’s New York facilities as well. Kaizen is a fundamentally green approach to manufacturing.
Lean Thinking highlights the Toyota Production System. Japanese car manufacturers like Honda and Toyota are some of the foremost practitioners of lean philosophy in the manufacturing world, but as the book explains, many of their manufacturing ideas were inspired by Henry Ford and american grocery stores- where “just-in-time” inventory was, and still is, an art form.
These ideas connected with a deep current in Japanese culture of respect for nature and a need after the second World War to be as resourceful as possible. You could say this philosophy is exemplified by “Waste not, want not.” The TPS approach is to eliminate as much waste- wasted time, energy, materials and scrap- as possible from the manufacturing process. The idea is that in most manufacturing processes, there is much more waste than there is opportunity for increased efficiency. Unlike the high-dollar investments often required to increase efficiency, reducing waste is about observing and streamlining the manufacturing process carefully to eliminate waste and improve quality.
So over nearly two decades, through dozens upon dozens, perhaps hundreds of Kaizen events, the manufacturing of ConMed Linvatec products has become less wasteful, faster and more flexible, cleaner and greener.
In an excerpt from a recent article written by one of my esteemed colleagues at ConMed Linvatec, here are some other ways that ConMed Linvatec has been “Going Green” for many years…
- Packaging. Almost all our boxes and shipping containers are made out of recycled material.
- Trade-in programs for capital equipment. We accept back any and all prior generation capital equipment and offer credit toward the purchase of new equipment. The returned equipment is often taken apart and some parts are used in the service and repair of other products.
- Made in the USA! Not only are most of our products manufactured in the USA but we also contract with many local suppliers. Many of our direct competitors are now subcontracting the manufacture of their products(s) outside the US; shipping from China (or elsewhere) increases the consumption of fuel and the “carbon footprint” of such products.
- Autoclavable camera heads. Autoclaving is a widely accepted and environmentally friendly method of product sterilization. It is a much “greener” method of sterilization than other methods which rely on harsh chemicals that need to be specially handled and disposed of.
More and more business have begun to realize that being green is just plain smart. In the medical device industry, ConMed Linvatec is a green leader.