As the nation emerges from the global pandemic and life returns to a “new” normal, many companies need to ask themselves if their current sales model can survive COVID-19.  American healthcare trends are shaping up to look like new sales models will be the key to success in 2022 and beyond.  

Here are some trends that suggest that reaching the healthcare customer of the future is going to be tougher—no matter how many “feet on the street” a company has. Throwing more bodies into the fray likely is not the answer.  

  • Working from home.  Anyone who did not need to be physically present at a healthcare facility was sent home during the pandemic.  Many are not returning, because their employers are finding that they can lower costs by not providing office space, and many functions can be provided with more efficiency by a home-based work staff. This trend also allows for flexibility of work hours and the use of part-time staff for many functions.  It also suggests that more contractors versus employees can be used for certain functions, further reducing costs by eliminating fringe benefits for staff.  
  • More contracted staff.  Labor shortages continue to persist in both clinical and non-clinical areas of healthcare providers.  To avoid staff burnout and provide relief, the trend to use contract staff will probably continue after the pandemic has fully passed.  Like all other staff, contract staff tend to turn over—but are not the same as employees when procurement and policy decisions are being made.  
  • Reconfigured workspace.  Many health systems are reconfiguring office space to “hoteling” type models and offering a flexible model where workers can work in “the office” two days a week and from home three days a week.  This is what is occurring at Novant Healthcare in Charlotte, North Carolina.  “Our expectation is team members will come to the office maybe two or three days a week and work remotely two or three days a week” said Matthew Stiene, senior vice president of construction and facilities for Novant.1  Novant is converting large offices formerly used by senior executive staff into conference rooms, as a part of their new flexible space planning efforts.  
  • Staff turnover.  The pandemic “killed” the desire for many workers across all industries to come back to a central office and has spurred high staff turnover of many positions in healthcare.  This is true on both sides of the desk, with suppliers reducing their sales teams and handling many customers remotely during the pandemic.

Remote working plays well into the hands of new technology such as REPCARDz2 a searchable directory of verified medical and pharmaceutical sales representatives that comes with HIPAA-compliant secure text and video chat features.  It allows provider staff to keep track of who their sales representative(s) are, and to easily communicate with them in a rapidly changing world.

  • Patient care in “alternate” sites” outside the acute care hospital.    Improved technology (especially during the pandemic) and the fact that care in an acute care hospital costs too much is pushing treatment options to other locations, including outpatient settings and ambulatory surgery centers that may or may not be owned by the acute care hospital.  Add in the rise of telemedicine, which demonstrated it can work during the pandemic, retail clinics and the consumer-led demands for more care in the home, and you have a perfect storm brewing that will make finding the “ultimate” buyer of goods and services even more difficult.

This trend makes finding the “right” buyer for new products and especially technology very difficult.  Add this to the number of new “Apps” that have been launched in the healthcare space creating more clutter, and it is getting harder for great new meaningful technology to be recognized.

These factors mean that the successful launch and scaling of new products and services require a carefully targeted sales approach that does not require significant amounts of costly Sales, General and Administrative (SG&A) expense.

Careful market segmentation is a key element for anyone either launching or building a brand in healthcare today.  The old “hunter,” “gatherer” and “nurturer” sales models are mostly dead or on life support at this point.  The rate of change is outpacing this model.  

Having detailed knowledge and understanding about a customer is more important than ever.  While the old model of having a national accounts contract with a national GPO may still work, product and service recognition is still critical in the market.  The question becomes how to drive that in a fashion that works best for both the buyer and the seller.  

Using Salesforce® and other Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems is one approach—but it is only as good as the amount of information sales staff puts into the system.  Companies—especially smaller ones— have often found that this can be a challenge even if it is a job expectation.  Hence, it is not the only solution.

Finally, getting to the “C-Suite” is not the answer either.  What are you going to say when you get there?  Most C-Suite executives in healthcare today have little time or patience for product detailing, and will usually tell those who inquire that they have “people” who do that for them.  The biggest question today and moving into 2022 is “how do I locate the people the C-Suite suggests I see?”  


1 Butcher, Lola, “Modern Healthcare”, May 4, 2021 at