Beyond providing important emotional support, a primary reason (in addition to product expertise) reps are so necessary is because they are often the surgeon’s most reliable “preference card.” I recently heard a surgeon describe their rep as the only reliable constant between all their different hospitals.
In addition to making sure the correct instrumentation and implants are available, a good rep knows how the surgeon likes to set up the room, glove and suture choices, even lighting, temperature, and music. While some might seem inconsequential, those little things can make a big impact on reducing any friction during that procedure.
When a surgeon is bouncing between facilities, finding the right person to pass along the message for updating their preference card isn’t nearly as simple as mentioning it to your attentive rep who can see it through. While there are novel preference card solutions have come a long way, they still face the integration challenge at all the disparate facilities the surgeon practices.
This is a double-edged sword in it being the most efficient pathway for the surgeon to get what they want, but doesn’t scale and can create an over-reliance on the rep. And while that might sound good for the rep, it can actually be a hinderance to their ability to build their business and/or have a life outside of the OR.
Codifying the different variables from the rep’s perspective improves a facility’s ability to achieve the surgeon’s needs. When the rep can rely on the facility to meet that expectation, they can be more effective at their job. While it’s nice to be helpful, most reps would rather be seen as the product expert rather than the human preference card.