How Can HealthTech Sales and Marketing Recover From COVID-19?

The following is a guest article by Adam Turinas, Founder of Healthlaunchpad.

The Haves and Have-Nots of Healthtech

I recently polled my network of healthcare sales and marketing executives to understand how COVID-19 had impacted their business.

As you can see, 60% said sales were down, and 30% are thriving. These include telehealth, remote monitoring and AI who have benefited from the crisis.

But both the haves and the havenots have their challenges.

For the Haves, the challenge is delivering on commitments. A friend who runs a behavioral health telehealth business said that one of the largest health systems in the Midwest informed him that they would increase capacity by 40%.

At the other end of the spectrum, healthcare consultants have been hit by healthcare systems slashing budgets and by not being able to go on site. Most of the rest of us are suffering from longer sales cycles and challenges in getting new leads.

Who Knows When will the pain stop?

Understanding what’s happing in healthcare systems sheds light on the problem.

“It’s apocalyptic” –Steve Klasko, CEO of Jefferson Health

Over the last couple of months, I hosted webinars with hospital executives, Joe Scott, FACHE, former hospital CEO from RWJ Barnabas Health and John Ulett, VP CIO of CentraState Healthcare. You can view them here.

In summary, here is how COVID-19 has affected healthcare systems:

  1. The financial impact is devastating due to the loss of elective procedures and patients are still scared to return to hospitals.
  2. Expect more hospital consolidation as smaller healthcare system struggle to survive.
  3. High unemployment and pressure on Medicaid make reimbursement problems worse.
  4. The crisis surfaced supply chain problems as PPE, ventilators, and other supplies were scarce
  5. Early on, many employees feared coming to work. Some won’t return.
  6. Healthcare systems had to learn to work virtually. This included providing virtual training and more flexible work hours.
  7. Telehealth, Chatbots, remote patient monitoring usage skyrocketed.
  8. Cybersecurity threats escalated putting even more pressure on IT.
  9. The digital front-door got a lot busier becoming a portal for telehealth, triage chatbots, wellness information, etc.

Acceleration or Disruption

Historically, moments like this have been disruptions where new companies transform the way a market operates, blowing up inefficiencies, creating new ways of doing business.

Given the inertia in healthcare, I am skeptical that even this will create the great disruption that healthcare needs. However, there is definitely acceleration happening in different parts of healthtech.

Here are just four areas where acceleration is happening

  1. Consumer demand for convenience is even more important – Telehealth, remote patient monitoring, triage chatbots offer many benefits. Consumers clearly love these technologies because they are more convenient.
  2. Digital transformation is even higher priority –I recently heard Jeffrey Klasko, CEO of Jefferson Health, talk about how they are incentivizing their own employees to use telehealth for evisits rather than using the ER. (I think there was a 10X difference in co-pay).
  3. Value-based care is proving its value – Healthcare systems have been painfully slow to shift to value-based care. Those who made the shift are in a better position. Why? Financial predictability. You know that you will get guaranteed income with upside, whereas the Fee-for-service portion of their income has evaporated. Expect healthcare systems to accelerate the move to value-based care.
  4. Cybersecurity – Ransomware attacks are the tip of the iceberg. There are so many vulnerabilities – insecure apps and devices, network weaknesses and more. Healthcare systems are prioritizing this out of necessity.

What Strategies Should You Consider?

There is a lot you can do to get things moving. Here are three ways:

  1. Focus on financial pain – It doesn’t matter what you are selling right now, if you can’t improve the bottom line, you won’t get past the CFO. The reason your deals are slowing down may be because your champion cannot convince the C-Suite that you are a “Must-have” in 2020. You have to be precise and compelling in how you will help them with their financial issues.
  2. Be a digital accelerator – How can you accelerate the use of digital technologies? How can you plug digital acceleration into your offering? Smaller, nimbler companies pivoted in April and started offering telehealth. Building or integrating these technologies takes time and can be very expensive but there are companies like Bluestream Health who offer white-label telehealth. Is there someone out there who is looking to be acquired who can help you? I sold my digital health company, Uniphy Health, to Harris Health in 2019 because they were looking to grow their portfolio of digital solutions.
  3. Change up your marketing – I run a community for healthcare sales and marketing professionals. It’s a great place to learn from each other. I am amazed by how companies have adapted their strategies to the times. This includes greater use of webinar, having SDRs reach out to prospects to conduct market research as a way to open new doors, developing new tools and content to get deals moving. You can learn more here. If you are sales and marketing pro, you may want to check it out.

When will the New Normal go back to the Old Normal?

Maybe never. Regardless, we all have to adapt. Personally, I believe that the winners of tomorrow won’t necessarily be those who have benefited most from the COVID-19 crisis but it will be those who have adapted best. It’s all about survival of the fittest.

About Adam Turinas

Adam is Healthlaunchpad’s founder and a healthcare technology entrepreneur. He is passionate about helping startups and tech firms succeed healthtech through better sales and marketing. In 2012, in partnership with a physician, he founded Practice Unite, later renamed Uniphy Health. This company did business with dozens of multi-hospital healthcare systems, providing collaboration tools to over 70,000 clinicians. In 2019, Uniphy Health was sold to a strategic buyer. Prior to that Adam spent over 20 years in marketing working with Fortune 500 companies globally.