There has always been a silent war going on in the medical world, one fought between large medical device suppliers and small ones.
The issue has always been that large suppliers simply have more muscle. They have the ability to sway product decisions in their favor. As a small business, we are tired of it. We are tired of not being seen in the shadow of a great giant.
Often times, hospitals have been using products that have been used for many, many years. The common mindset of, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, should not be applied in the medical world. Staying in that mindset does nothing for innovation, and it could affect patient care.
The large suppliers are smart. They have systems in place that make it difficult for the little guys to get their products seen. It is almost impossible to get new, innovative products into the hands of clinical-end users, meaning that their patients will never even get the chance to try something new, something that might help them.
Say, for example, that we get one of our new catheter securement products into the hands of a PICC nurse, she uses it on a patient, and they both love it. Sounds great, right? The problem with this is that the clinical-end users are not the decision-makers when it comes to ordering medical supplies, that responsibility often lies with someone who has little to no experience in direct patient care, or someone who has been out of bedside practice for many years. The nurses can rave all they want about new products, but if it doesn’t move the needle of the medical supply chain manager, there is no chance of change.
But, can we blame the supply chain managers? No, not at all. They, along with us, are just stuck in a broken system that has existed for far too long. And the decisions doesn’t only lay with them. It can also be a result of the group purchasing organization (GPO) and their choice to contract with the big supplier.
Hospitals have teams who review the overall “value” of a product. The issue lies in what is valued. At the top of the “values” list are things like price, GPO agreements, supplier relations, contracts, delivery incentives, rebates, extras, etc. Or in other words, money. Because of these misplaced “values”, the larger supplier almost always wins.
As a small business, Starboard Medical has seen this over and over again. We developed an innovative line of catheter securement devices that are beneficial to both the clinical-end user and the patient, and one was rated as securing better than the seemingly unchanged market-leading device that has been used for the last two decades. Even after being evaluated as working better, it is still difficult to gain business.
Why? Why is this the way it is?
Because of muscle.
Think of the sheer size of a large supplier. They have the ability to make hospitals do what they want because they have power over the hospitals. The large supplier can sway decisions. They can increase their price on other products if the hospital threatens to switch. They can threaten to take away a rebate or extra perks. The muscly supplier values market share, not so much patient care.
The majority of the review committees rarely see the little supplier who values patient care standing in the shadow of the giant supplier. All they see is muscle.
As a small business, we develop innovative, clinically advantageous products that help reduce complication risk at a lower cost than what hospitals are paying now. We conduct clinical product evaluations and we listen to our reviewers. We hear from nurses and patients who try our products and love them, but are upset that they have no power to convert their facility’s product choices.
We know that our Clik-FIX products are exceptional. Catheters are secured better, patients have less risk of movement-related complications, and the nurses can rest easy knowing that we’ve made their job easier. We need clinicians to try our products, to use them on patients, to make their voices heard, and to flex their muscles without fear.
Once in a while, we are lucky to find a clinician who already flexes their muscles, a nurse that stands up for their patients, or a materials manager who knows how to stand up against the big dogs and lets them know that there are other big dogs out there that won’t back down. Thank you to those who already make their voices heard.
If you want to get rid of old, outdated products and help out a small, woman-owned, American medical device company, try Clik-FIX securement devices. You can get free samples of our devices here.