There is a common misconception that physicians are resistant to adopting new technologies. However, that is not actually the case; the reality is that physicians are simply resistant to upending their normal routines if they don’t feel it truly provides improvement over their normal processes. If the new technology or service adds to their workload, that’s even worse.
It’s important for medtech companies to consider the burden on physicians when introducing a new product or service. They are ultimately either the end-user of the product, or the one recommending it to patients in the vast majority of cases, so it is critical to get them on board with it.
This is a topic we discussed at length on a podcast episode with Dr. Mike Greiwe, orthopedic surgeon and founder of the OrthoLive telemedicine platform. Here, we’ll talk through some of the most common reasons physicians don’t adopt new technology and what health tech companies can do to address that.
Reason #1: The new tech provides no real improvement over current processes or results.
Physicians adopt new technologies because they either improve current processes, improve results for patients, or both. If the new technology doesn’t make their normal processes easier, or doesn’t improve the end result, it’s going to be tough to convince physicians to adopt it.
Physicians were already dealing with a lot of change before the pandemic, and things have only continued to rapidly change since. If your new technology requires a physician to change his or her current processes, but does nothing to either simplify the process or improve upon the result, it’s a hard sell to convince them it’s worth the time and effort to adopt the new technology.
How to Address It: Consult with physicians on the product & pitch.
The best way to make sure that your health tech product provides a real benefit to your target market (physicians) is to consult with physicians on the product development and sales pitches. As a surgeon himself, a large part of Dr. Greiwe’s success with his telemedicine platform comes from the fact that he understands what physicians want and need because he’s been there himself.
This doesn’t mean that your company has to be led by a doctor to be successful. However, you should consider bringing some physicians in to consult and do beta testing as you develop and tweak your product. They can provide valuable insights on what does and doesn’t improve processes and outcomes so that you can make changes accordingly.
In other cases, it may not even be that the product doesn’t yield improvement. It may just be that your sales pitch isn’t showing that improvement off effectively. This is another case where physician consultants and beta testers can provide feedback on what they like about your product, so that your company can develop the sales pitch accordingly.
Reason #2: The new tech adds more work for the physician.
Perhaps worse than technology that does not provide improvement is technology that adds more work to the physician’s already busy day. Physicians really just want to focus on taking care of their patients, but are increasingly having to take on other work that takes them away from patient care. As Dr. Greiwe said in the podcast episode, “The last thing a provider wants or needs is something that’s going to distract them from taking care of their patients.”
What physicians want is something that makes their jobs easier and increases or improves the care they can provide to their patients.
How to Address It: Create health tech that makes the job easier, not harder.
If your company can present physicians with a product that clearly addresses common pain points, eases administrative burden, or otherwise makes their lives easier, that is a clear no-brainer for the physician. It’s not that physicians are being lazy or resistant to change; it just doesn’t make sense for a physician to want to adopt new tech if it doesn’t enable them to take better care of patients.
This, again, is another area where your company should consult with physicians and conduct beta tests to get feedback on how you can improve. If you are early in the product development phase, it would also be helpful to consult with physicians to figure out what pain points your product might be able to solve. The sales pitch is also important here, because you have to be able to clearly demonstrate how your product makes the job easier. As we’ve discussed, physicians are very limited on time, so make sure you streamline that sales pitch as much as possible to get right to the benefits of your product.
Reason #3: It’s difficult to explain to patients or to get them to use the new tech.
Some health tech, including telemedicine and various apps and devices, requires the patient’s use. In these cases, you have to be able to demonstrate the clear benefit for both the physician and the patient. Often, we see medtech companies focus too much on the pitch to the physician, and there is no information that really helps the patient understand why they should use it. It’s great that your product is top-of-the-line and makes the physician’s job easier, but what is in it for the patient?
Some health tech companies approach this by marketing directly to the patient, to varying degrees of success. However, we’ve generally seen greater success when the recommendation comes from the physician, rather than a medtech company. In most cases, patients already have trust built up with their physicians, so that recommendation holds more weight than promotional materials from the company that makes the product.
With that said, many medtech companies leave it up to the physicians to figure out how to educate their patients on the product. If the physician has to figure out how to sell patients on your product, you are again putting more work on the physician.
How to Address It: Create the materials your physicians need to educate patients.
When medtech companies have all the materials that physicians need to educate patients on the product, it makes it much easier for them to adopt your new tech. These materials should be very much focused on what the patient needs to know, which is usually very different from the conversation your sales team is having with the physician.
Educational materials might include website content, brochures, and print-outs that have all the key details the patient needs to know, but can also be customized with the practice’s information and processes.
As you might have noticed, the common theme here is making sure that your company takes as much burden and guesswork out of the process as possible for physicians. The bottom line is that if your tech doesn’t make their jobs easier, physicians will resist it. However, if you can demonstrate a clear benefit and improvement and make the process easy, you will get their attention and ultimately their business.