Technology &

Win-win in the rehabilitation market

Increasing cost pressure is forcing stakeholders in the rehabilitation market to focus on core competencies. Not only hospitals are affected, but also medical technology. Partnerships between hospitals and industry can help both sides. Jakob Tiebel explains in an interview how not only industry but also the hospital market can benefit from co-operations.

Interview: Melanie Grom

Grom: The increasing focus of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities on core competencies and strategically important fields of business, together with increased competition and cost pressure, has intensified the search for cross-sector partnerships and co-operation. The focus is not only on the adjacent care areas, referring doctors and cost bearers, but for some years now also increasingly on medical technology. How does this development come about?

Keeping pace with medical-technological progress and the associated financing risks provide the necessary incentives for this. The anchor point for cooperation is usually partnership development projects, which aim to develop advanced solutions for innovative therapies. Hospitals can thus underpin their image and position themselves as highly innovative. The experience and support of the industry helps to optimise and technologically support internal hospital processes. In return, medical technology companies gain insight into the structures and processes of a hospital and can optimally adapt their products and services to the needs of their customers. In this way, the joint recognition and promotion of innovations results in an incentive-contribution balance that leads to a win-win situation.

Grom: In a win-win situation, as a rule, all parties involved achieve a relevant benefit. This means that, as a rule, a positive balance of interests can be found for both sides. In the healthcare system, this often even has to take into account the effects on third parties. It is obvious that medical technology benefits from such cooperations. What are the advantages for hospitals?

Tiebel: First of all, the strategy must be geared towards sustainable success and long-term co-operation rather than short-term profit. Respect for the co-operation partner is the key and means listening carefully to the interests of the other party, understanding them and taking them sufficiently into account. A win-win situation can only be achieved if it is possible to articulate one’s own interests. If such an exchange works on the level of interests, then medical technology even becomes an important link for hospitals, within the entire care network. If the advantages of co-operation are optimally exploited, hospitals will at best increase their strategic fit with referring doctors and cost bearers, and increasing process quality through innovation will ideally lead to a reduction in costs and an increase in the number of cases by exploiting economies of scale.

Grom: Does this mean that a rethink in medical technology is necessary?

Of course! In marketing, the focus has long since shifted from the product to the promise of performance and the relationship with the customer. Strategic partnerships thus also become the starting point for modern marketing considerations. In this context, medical technology in the healthcare sector will redefine itself in the future. The traditional view from inside the company to the outside must be supplemented by a view from outside to inside. Only in this way can performance promises be precisely aligned with the needs of customers and passed on accordingly.

This sounds as if the sale of the product is no longer the main focus. I can’t imagine that for the life of me...

Tiebel: That’s not true either. Of course, for a manufacturer, sales are the main focus. The question is whether an investment really makes sense for a customer. The seller’s market situation that used to dominate the healthcare market in the past has long since been overcome. Service offers that are reduced exclusively to a simple sales proposal are at a disadvantage. It is about highlighting a unique value proposition for the customer, which they can at best pass on to their customers. This creates customer value chains which extend throughout the entire process of providing services and which are characterised by the interlocking of the stakeholders with each other and the exchange between them.

Grom: This means that when developing new products, the focus is not only on the hospital as a customer, but also on the patient and other entities?

Tiebel: That’s right! For the development and also for marketing within such a value-added system, it means that in addition to hospitals as primary addressees, patients and their relatives, referring doctors, cost bearers and other stakeholders involved in the care process must also be considered as indirect addressees. Let’s take a look at the range of services offered by the THERA-Trainer complete solution for gait rehabilitation: The hospital will be equipped with a modern, device-based therapy concept, which will result in an improved range of therapies for training walking ability, e.g. after a stroke, in a targeted manner. This is of interest to many rehabilitation facilities because the concept ensures an economic output and at the same time corresponds to the current state of science. However, this is of little interest to the patient and their relatives. In particular, they want to be guaranteed that everything possible is being done to restore the patient’s independence and quality of life. It is interesting that the needs and value propositions are by no means contradictory. However, in order to implement this value transfer successfully, it is crucial to work closely with the customer within the framework of such projects in order to generate and make meaningful use of the knowledge regarding the value propositions of individual addressees. Then investments are worthwhile and potential can be optimally exploited. So it’s a win-win.