Valuable insights into the mind of a physician – written by Leslie Kernisan, MD, a physician! Let’s face it, most of the time when we’re talking with doctors, we’re trying to get feedback about our product or idea or we’re trying to sell our product or idea. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to ask about how doctors think about new technologies or what their decision-making processes/criteria are for new technologies.
Here are a couple of observations from the blog post:
- Vague, disorganized, or poorly designed websites drive visitors away, especially busy physicians.
- Doctors prefer to consume information offline as mentioned in this blog post.
- Don’t expect a busy clinician to call or email for more information. The information you provide must be sufficient the first time around.
And here are her questions about the new technology:
- Does it solve a clinical problem she is experiencing?
- What evidence exists that the technology will solve a problem, improve outcomes, or improve patient health?
- How does it compare to the gold standard in terms of method, outcomes, complications, etc.?
- How exactly does it work – be general and specific here. The physician may want to know how your technology works but they must know how it works in the context of the other devices and systems they use daily.
- How easy is it to use? What’s the learning curve? Can you show a video of the device in use? Can you provide sample screens of a software application including drop-down menus?
- How easy would it be to try the technology? Does it require significant financial investment, integration, or time investment, i.e., training, learning curve cases. Who bears the risk if the trial is unsuccessful?
- Is it cost-effective? Show some financial examples and compare with popular alternatives.
- What are the benefits to the patient and to the physician? Don’t just focus on features.
- Who is the “ideal” patient for your technology? What about fit for the patients at the extremes of complexity, both simple and hopelessly complicated? Will it work for them?
And here are some suggestions from the doctor about how to optimize your company/product website to make it easier to use and navigate and also to get the information to the user:
- Create a page or section for clinicians. Don’t exclude the general public but use proper medical, scientific, and technical terminology and keep the marketing-speak to a minimum.
- Consider having more than one “how it works” section. Some people like a general explanation while others prefer detail. Also, provide the information in multiple formats. Some prefer print, others pictures and diagrams, and others like to watch video.
- Offer downloadable brochures in PDF format, again in different levels of complexity.
- Provide evidence of efficacy. This is especially important for physicians considering the trial of a new technology. If it’s insufficient, they will let you know. If it’s inaccessible, however, you may never know why they refused your offer.
- Be sure to compare your product against the gold standard or traditional clinical practice along whatever dimensions are important to users. Either think like the user or ask them what data they would like to see in order to make a decision.
- Offer a free trial or some equivalent risk mitigation. Do not expect the doctor to bear all of the risk in evaluating your product. They won’t.
- Identify your benefits and advantages vs. the competition. Don’t exaggerate – your product does not need to be better in every category to be considered for a trial.
Takeaways: If you are a startup CEO or medical device product manager, make sure the information you are providing is tailored to your target customer. Keep in mind that evaluation is part of the sales process. Your goal is to get to the next stage in the process, evaluation/trial. You do not need to win the sale at this point. Prematurely trying to close a sale often kills it. Finally, think in terms of the big picture when providing information for evaluation. Put yourself in the place of the doctor and/or patient and ask yourself what information you need to make a decision. Consider the other systems and processes that your device or technology must integrate with. And above all, be fair about allocating the risk when asking doctors for evaluations and trials.