The Other Side 7:
Interview with a Paediatric Nurse
Healthcare in the community is an increasingly important area of the medical technologies market. On Target asked Emma Day, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Diabetes Home Care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, about her experience of purchasing medical devices to treat children in the community.
1. What part does purchasing play in your working life? What types of medical technology do you need to purchase?
Usually items relating to measuring diabetes control either point of care testing devices that are held in patient’s homes or those that are housed solely in the clinical setting. Most recently, we purchased a device to sense blood glucose levels over a three- to four-day period. Weighing and measuring devices for children are also purchased as a matter of course.
2. What factors influence your purchasing decisions?
Invariably cost plays an enormous part in the purchasing decision – also ongoing technical support for these devices, and the resource implications for maintenance contracts and quality assurance schemes that can be mandatory but costly to sign up for. The need for sundry items to be purchased is also considered. We look for new innovations doing something we’ve always done, but in a better way.
3. How is paediatric care changing with the growing emphasis on primary and community care signalled by recent Department of Health publications?
We are a hospital-based community service, which makes our service somewhat unique. This brings its own challenges. Paediatric diabetes has to be treated by secondary care providers. We do take our expertise out to the community in which the child lives, and offer support and education to them and their families in order to facilitate their return to ‘normal’ activities. Acute paediatric care is becoming more communitybased, thus making it necessary to procure devices and other products that would traditionally have only been found in secondary care settings.
4. How well does the healthcare industry meet your clinical needs in terms of the products and services available?
There is a huge choice in terms of products and services, and new things have to be something quite special and different in order to spark an interest. The service and product suppliers and manufacturers try to meet our clinical needs by designing and rigorously testing new products. They also undertake market research with healthcare professionals and users alike in order to meet clinical need. This means that new products and services are usually well received.
5. What aspects of healthcare sales and marketing do you find helpful? What aspects do you find unhelpful?
It is helpful to be able to ‘try before you buy’, especially if the immediate usefulness or usability of a new product may be in doubt. This will often lead to the product being bought for future use.
I am not sure that the ordering constraints put upon us from within the NHS or an individual Trust are always considered. Sometimes we are constrained to a very short list of either suppliers or products to which we must adhere.
6. Is there anything about your role or the needs of your patients that you would like healthcare sales representatives to be more aware of?
Patients, especially children and their parents, do not like change, and when there are withdrawals of products or services this must be communicated sensitively to them. On the whole, sales representatives serve us extremely well and are our contact with what might otherwise be faceless organisations.
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