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A Day in the Life

  

In the ninth of our series on healthcare industry professionals, Stuart Horsley, Territory Sales Manager, VI Division for Biotronik UK Ltd, talks to On Target about his working life.

The vascular intervention (VI) products market is fiercely contested. How do you make sure you have the competitive edge?

Belief in the products is the main thing: it affects the customers if you don’t believe in the products yourself. Having a medical background, I believe in bringing the best to the patient.

My experience combines ten years as a radiographer in the NHS with the sales experience I’ve gained since I’ve been in the industry. That helps me to build one-to-one relationships with customers – a few of whom I’ve actually known for the last 12 to 13 years. It opens doors to start with. Those relationships lead on to evaluations, and successful evaluations lead on to sales.

Having ‘lab time’ in the interventional suite at the hospital is also very important: supporting the department with good quality products, both new product developments and reliable products that are already to hand.

What happens in your typical working day? What challenges do you face?

No one day is typical. My day starts between six and seven. The peripheral products side of our company is new to the UK market, so I tend to divide my time between doing office appointments with customers – introducing myself, the company and the products – and doing the actual ‘lab’ sessions with patients that follow. I’m juggling the two activities.

The main challenge, I suppose, is that we are new to the UK market. We have very reliable and high-quality manufacturing in Switzerland that has been producing medical products for some time, but they haven’t been available in the UK. The challenge is making people aware of who I am, who the company is and what our products are about – but having come from a start-up company prior to Biotronik, that’s not something that frightens me.

It’s not easy for an SME to compete with established major corporations, but I like being a thorn in the side of the big boys. We certainly have some leading technologies within the company that will give us the edge in the future, as well as high-quality products that help to open the doors. Once you’re in with those products, you can build on the rest of the portfolio.

We have some very low-profile stent systems that enable treatment to be carried out on a day-patient basis, reducing costs and patient treatment times. When you’re dealing with the NHS, keeping costs down is always an issue.

My geographical area is in and around London, including Essex and Hampshire. We are a developing team, and my area will become more defined as we grow. 95% of my time is spent in the field and I spend more time at home, preparing for meetings, than in the office. I divide my time between seeing doctors in their offices and seeing doctors in the ‘lab’ with the patient. I’m normally in hospital every day.

How is the market for VI products changing?

The UK market has traditionally been fairly conservative, with financial constraints leading the NHS to look for the cheapest possible solutions. But more and more evidence now supports using stent technologies – and as drugs improve to go alongside these stents, there are greater opportunities for selling into a market that is far more open to stent use than it has been. It’s important to keep ahead of the market, and we’ve been developing our interventional products alongside the increased evidence to support their use. Our future technology is a range of absorbable metal stents that are still in development.

We’re using general medical evidence that’s already out there in our product design, and also using the specific advantages of our products: they are lower-profile, so easier to deliver. That helps make it easier for doctors to switch from a conservative approach to treatment. We are improving the deliverability of these devices: if you can’t get them where they need to be, they might as well stay in the packaging! Above all, they need to match the needs of the patient and the operator.

 

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