February 20, 2024/Aktana/Artificial Intelligence, Blog

 A discussion between Dr. Adil Ajuied and Jonny Rawlinson from Aktana

The seismic shifts brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have reshaped the landscape of healthcare, prompting a reevaluation of the relationships between surgeons and medical device representatives. In this blog, we delve into a surgeon’s perspective on these changes and explore the ways AI is poised to reshape the dynamics of the medical sales landscape contributing to more meaningful interactions.
(Note: Excerpts are from an interview with Dr. Adil Ajuied, knee surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and the Fortius Clinic London, UK.)

How has the pandemic changed your relationship with medical device representatives in and out of the OR?

The pandemic highlighted the indispensable role of medical device representatives as integral members of the healthcare team. Beyond direct consultations and OR engagements, these representatives contribute significantly to the preparation for cases, troubleshooting, and the seamless functioning of device supply and OR processes. While I’ve always hugely valued the representatives that I work with from various industry partners, I think it’s definitely shone a light on how much they do outside of direct consultant interaction and OR engagement. I do not work with many industry partners, I work with probably three select groups of industry partners. So I’ve always had a very strong relationship with the people who support and care for both me and my patients. I feel that the medical device representatives with whom I work are an integral part of the multidisciplinary team that cares for my patients.

How often do you engage with other representatives from medical device companies?

I’m very involved in academic medicine and surgery and in particular education and training. I deliver this through instructional courses and cadaver labs as a key opinion leader for approximately thirteen years. For me, it’s important to cultivate strong relationships not only with sales representatives but also with individuals from marketing, senior management, and even CEOs of medical device companies. These connections provide valuable insights, enhance communication, and foster a collaborative environment, ultimately benefiting patient care.

How does your relationship with a medical device company impact patient outcomes? Are there ways of improving that connection?

I must stress the importance of transparency and a patient-centered approach in the relationship – the companies I work with are those whose ethos mirrors mine. They will regularly point me to their competitors if, for example, they have a stock problem and a backorder problem, or they don’t have a solution in their portfolio that meets the clinical need. The willingness of companies to guide surgeons to competitors in the absence of suitable solutions demonstrates a commitment to patient outcomes.

My team and I do not stop caring for patients, planning lists, etc, at 5pm on working days, and often we need industry support outside of regular hours. Having a good working relationship, and the ability to connect with industry representatives out of hours is very important. This of course must be appropriate and not abused, and also works both ways with industry representatives often reaching out to me out of hours.

With this wave of technology and AI in healthcare, where do you see opportunities?

The integration of technology, including data analytics and AI, holds promise for improving patient outcomes. One area that greatly impacts me as a surgeon and my OR manager is managing inventory effectively to ensure smooth surgical procedures. AI and predictive analytics tools could assist sales representatives in forecasting product demand, optimizing inventory levels, and preventing stockouts. This collaborative approach would make sure that the required medical devices are readily available, contributing to the seamless operation of surgical theaters and positive patient outcomes.

As a surgeon, my schedule is often hectic, leaving limited time for interactions with sales representatives. Being able to streamline the appointment scheduling process by analyzing my availability, preferences, and historical engagement patterns could ensure that meetings are scheduled at optimal times, minimizing disruptions to my clinical responsibilities, and allowing for more focused discussions.

In the dynamic field of healthcare, it’s critical to stay up to date with the latest advancements. AI-powered tools come into play, not just assisting sales and clinical representatives, but ensuring the timely delivery of relevant information to me and my team. These tools can sift through medical literature, regulations, and product updates, making sure the information we get is accurate and aligns with current clinical protocols. AI can help tailor communications to address specific concerns, presenting solutions that fit the unique needs of my team ensuring smooth surgical procedures.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence and MedTech

As we forge ahead into the future of healthcare, the collaboration between surgeons and medical device representatives takes on heightened significance as anticipated by today’s surgeons. MedTech companies are poised to shift their focus towards not only enhancing patient outcomes but also streamlining the intricacies of healthcare professionals’ daily lives with Artificial intelligence at the forefront. The determining factors guiding the selection of a product extend beyond mere efficacy; they now encompass the unwavering commitment of company personnel and their adept responsiveness to the distinctive requirements of surgeons on the cutting edge of medical innovation.

Learn more about how AI can optimize commercial execution for MedTech