Covid changed everything, obviously. It’s changed work, hospitals, even home. Do you remember what it was like to go to the movies? Or to dine inside a restaurant? Or even just to have a business meeting without worrying about a pandemic? Every aspect of life has changed, and a lot of these changes are going to stay long after the virus is contained. 

Hospitals especially have had to deal with a lot of changes in the past few months. Protocol has totally changed, and medical staff has to continue working at the same pace as they always had. It’s just that now they are wearing multiple layers of PPE and are putting their lives on the line. Protocol changed, not only for medical workers, but for everyone who does business with medical facilities. 

Take medical sales reps, for example. Back in the day, medical sales reps were the coolest people around. They would stroll up to the hospital with their briefcase full of samples, waving at everyone they pass by and seemingly knowing everyone’s name. They were gladly welcomed into the staff break room where they would place down their boxes of Krispy Kream donuts to share, and start working the room. They were able to talk to each nurse, each doctor, one by one, and have a genuine conversation with them about their product. And the nurses and doctors were interested! They actually liked seeing new products, being able to handle them in person, and being able to probe the sales rep with all of their questions. It was a symbiotic relationship. The medical staff got free donuts and a nice conversation to break up their monotonous day, and the sales rep got to show off their product. 

What now?

Hospitals won’t even let a sales rep through the door. Red tape everywhere. Reps went from seeing their main hospital as a second home to not being able to enter the building. How long is this going to last? Will it outlast COVID-19? What if this change is permanent.

It’s bad news for the sales rep, of course, but it’s also bad news for the medical staff. They aren’t able to see what new products are out there. They might be frustrated with what their hospital stocks, and there is nothing they can do about it. 

For now, the medical sales world has gone digital. No free donuts over the phone… and it’s just not the same. Going digital and relying on emails for communication is not always the answer. 

I don’t know about you, but ever since the pandemic started, I have gotten about 5x the amount of emails than I normally got. The whole world went digital, and my inbox took the brunt of the aftermath. Just imagine how much worse it is for a medical professional. They are getting their 5x emails, AND they are getting all of the emails from their sales reps. But, what else are they supposed to do? It’s not like the reps could stroll in and catch up with their contacts. It is frustrating having to sort through hundreds of emails just to find one and have it “replace” what should have been a pleasant conversation. 

Nurse frustration didn’t just come into existence with the emergence of covid though. A 2017 study showed that a staggering 49.8% of nurses considered leaving the nursing profession, 27% felt overworked, and 16% didn’t enjoy their job anymore. Now imagine how much worse it is now, with the extra shifts, heavy PPE, being digitally bombarded, and an everyday risk of exposure. 

I’d be frustrated too. Actually, I am frustrated. I work at a small medical device company. We already had it tough, what, with all of the GPO contracts and mega-companies saturating the market. But now? Red tape. Red tape everywhere. We used to rely on those sales reps being able to walk into a hospital and show the staff how great our products were. Otherwise, they would never have even known we existed. Now it is nearly impossible to introduce our product to a new hospital because of COVID-19.

Oh, covid. Covid, covid, covid. You just had to go and mess up everything. 

It’s scary to think about how this will affect patient care. If nurses are frustrated with their current array of medical devices and are eager to find a better replacement but can’t because of all this red tape, their patients are suffering. They are stuck using subpar devices and can’t do anything about it. Patient care is regressing. It is running away from progress and we can’t stop it. 

The negative side effects from this virus are going to be insurmountable. The most we can do right now is try to evolve and work with it. Maybe emailing isn’t the answer. Maybe the answer is a phone call, or a Zoom call, or hey, maybe we can convince the hospitals to agree to parking lot meetings. I don’t know how the medical device industry will look in one year, or even 10 years, but I do know that we will do everything we can to evolve with it. We care about patient care, and covid is not going to stop our progress. 

All of us at Starboard Medical wanted to give special thanks to all of the nurses out there who are dealing with more struggles, more hours, more work, and more emotional strain. Thank you for everything you are doing during this unprecedented time.