Selling into Ever-Changing, Highly Regulated Industries – Part 3: Healthcare 2.0
Author: collin stewart
This is the third blog in the Selling into Ever-Changing, Highly Regulated Industries, featuring tips, tricks, and tactics from sales professionals selling into heavily regulated spaces from cybersecurity, to healthcare, to cannabis. Stay tuned for 2 bonus podcast episodes and an ebook on this topic coming soon.
MDTech is a company that provides the most intuitive, innovative, and comprehensive enterprise solutions for physicians and healthcare organizations that leverage wireless and handheld technology. Simply put, they offer a mobile charge capture application that helps physicians log procedures and corresponding fees at the patient bedside. The application helps physicians and healthcare practices to be more compliant by allowing them to do what they already do in a more secure way so that in the event of an audit or health insurance claim, everything is tracked accurately and up to code.
The main regulation that Sean Yuan, a recent guest on the Predictable Revenue Podcast, and his colleagues at MDTech have to navigate is HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This regulation makes sure that patients have control over the privacy of their personal information and how that information is regulated and shared across different software, clinics, and primary care providers.
A HIPAA violation is seen as a failure to comply with any aspect of HIPAA standards and provisions detailed in the act. These include failure to implement safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of personal health information and the failure to maintain and monitor personal health information access logs.
In the event that there are HIPAA breaches, there are different levels of severity when it comes to punishments and fines. The minimum fine for willful violations is $25,000 – and the upper end of the punishment spectrum includes jail time for the offender. Breaches are exposed by affected individuals filing a report, HIPAA audits being performed, or by third parties who identify vulnerable applications and storage volumes on the internet.
STAYING UP TO DATE
All employees at MDTech are required to go through HIPAA training (a process that is logged to ensure no failings on the employer’s part). Even though Sean and his team aren’t the ones who see patients, they are handling patient information and therefore have a responsibility to remain HIPAA compliant by tracking all data and everything that happens to it.
As for ongoing trainings and staying up to date with any changes or updates to HIPAA regulations, Sean and his coworkers use a software called Definitive Healthcare. Definitive Healthcare provides leading intelligence on the healthcare provider market and for MDTech, it acts as a search engine for all things healthcare-related.
Example: The most recent changes that came up were the changes from IC9 to IC10. The Department of Health and Human Services felt the contents of IC9 (the official system of assigning codes to diagnoses and procedures) were outdated, and would not serve the healthcare needs of the future, so the update was made to improve the quality of data in multiple regards. The impact that Sean saw was a drastic change in the ways providers were doing their coding and billing – things MDTech employees would need to know.
USING RESEARCH FOR OUTREACH
Using the information they pick up through their trainings and research is very important for the sales team at MDTech. The first tactic they apply is language mirroring.
There are many terms and processes that sales reps selling to physicians need to be familiar with. As Sean says, you don’t have to have the knowledge of a doctor but you have to be able to talk the talk and understand what they’re talking about. This includes MIPS quality measures and procedure or CPT codes – knowing that one practice may use certain terminology to refer to a procedure and another practice may call it something else.
The next aspect of the sales process Sean believes is especially important in this industry is knowing your audience. As a salesperson in this space, you need to understand the mindset of someone who works in healthcare, especially in a period of time like the one we’re in. This means that in many cases a sales rep needs to tailor their outreach in a certain way to appeal to the person they’re reaching out to.
There is less emphasis on cold-calling physicians who are busy seeing patients, and more focus on emails and voicemails. A rep who knows what a doctor’s day looks like will provide them with a quick and easy way to absorb what they are offering. They will also emphasize solving pain points for the doctor before listing product features. When targeting an executive, the focus will be on impact on the bottom line and compliance. Outreach must be different from person to person.
BECOME A VALUED PARTNER, NOT JUST A VENDOR
The most important skill a salesperson can have in this field if they want to position themselves as a valued partner rather than just another vendor is the ability to answer questions. To do this, the salesperson must make sure they understand the medical professional’s workflow and what they typically do. The rep can then compare these workflows to industry best practices and help to bridge the gap – providing value, helping to make processes more efficient, and aiding in compliance.
Knowing your audience is key here as well. Healthcare providers, someone in billing, and general admin are all looking for different things and have different focuses. So the value you provide to them has to be tailored and relevant.
REPUTATION IS EVERYTHING
Within the medical industry, references are a huge asset. When you’re selling to a physician with a certain specialty, they want to hear from another provider from the same specialty that has used your application and seen success with their particular workflows, terms and processes, and compliance metrics.
Even outreach strategies a salesperson uses can make or break the reputation of both the rep and company. Doctors in particular are very careful about who they buy from. If you don’t come to them from a point of true understanding and expertise then you don’t have a chance, and you’ll burn a bridge.
BEHIND THE TIMES
Something interesting that came up several times during this podcast/blog series was the idea that highly regulated industries are very traditional – even archaic – in many of their practices.
Sean attests to this fact. The medical industry is a little behind the times when it comes to digitization. He explains that because no higher power or regulatory body is forcing all hospitals to centralize their data, a lot of hospitals and clinics are simply too set in their ways to change anything. The current practices are not without their headaches, however. Each hospital has its own system for keeping data that is often incompatible with the way other providers store their data. This results in a lot of important personal health information being shared by fax and over the phone. A doctor often visits a patient bedside with a face sheet printed out, upon which they will jot down notes. This makes collection and storage a very manual process and one that is vulnerable to leaks.
Part of salespeople’s jobs in a highly regulated industry then, along with being their valued partner, is to educate their prospects and clients on what other options are available that could help them in their day to day.
There’s no denying that selling into highly regulated industries is a tough task. In these spaces where traditional tools and processes, regardless of how inefficient they may be, are deeply entrenched, trust plays an even greater role than in other b2b sales. You have to know who you’re selling to, speak their language, understand their workflow, and be more up to date than even they are when it comes to the regulations they are navigating. On top of all that, your company and you as a salesperson must have a sterling reputation, because word travels fast. But if you have a good strategy for doing your research, staying in the know, and approaching your prospects then you’ll soon set yourself apart as a valued partner and subject matter expert in your space.
The first two blog posts in this series:
More on becoming a valued partner:
More on relevance and knowing your audience:
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