Power Tables

Here’s a look at the demographics for selling power tables:

If it’s true, as some say, that only one out of 10 tables in doctors’ offices are power, you, as a sales rep, have the choice to see the potential in getting the market to change and enhance the patient experience by selling a product that will become industry standard.

Widespread Conversions?

In five years, I feel confident in saying that we’ll have the market switched from 10 to 1 box to power, to 10 to 1 power to box,” says Dick Moorman, vice president of sales for Versailles, Ohio-based Midmark Corp.

Midmark introduced its 75 power exam table program approximately 15 years ago, and has a full line of power exam and procedure tables on the market today. Its most recent additions are the Ritter Model 222 and 223 and the Midmark Model 622 and 623 high-low tables.

If you think of the dental market, how many have manual moving tables? How many have power tables? You can see the potential for these power tables simply by making this observation.

It’s only a matter of time, says Moorman, citing statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • 31 million people in the United States are over the age of 65.
  • A million people reach age 60 every month.
  • Most medicine is practiced on people age 60 and over.
  • Fifty percent of the federal budget will be consumed by age-related problems by the year 2010.
  • In less than a century, this country has added more than 25 years to the average American’s lifespan.

The question is, are reps and their customers there?

Opportunities Everywhere You Look:

When you walk into a clinical setting, stop and look at what you see, says Moorman. “If you see patients with walkers, wheelchairs, people with broken legs, people who are in pain or sick, you should instantly think, ‘I need to help these people.’

Talk to the doctor, ask him how he is going to help the 300 pound man in the wheelchair. How tough is it going to be in a manual chair? You have already fixed a problem the doctor didn’t even realize he had simply by selling the power table.

It’s relatively easy to sell a power table to a physician or clinic that already has one, says Moorman. “Once they have a power table, you don’t have to re-sell them on the benefits.” It’s like selling someone on a color television who already has one, he says. They don’t ever want to go back to black and white.

Even so, some doctors who already own a power table fail to see the possibilities, adds Moorman. They might say, “I already have a power table. Why do I need another one?”

Then you need to ask, “How much do you love it? How many rooms do you have?” That will get the ball rolling.

How can sales reps make the case for the doctor to buy one or more power tables for his or her practice?

Here’s what the manufacturers say:

  1. First, power tables are good for the patient, many of whom are over 60 or overweight and can’t easily get up onto a manual box table, they say.
  2. Second, they’re good for the doctor and his or her staff, many of whom are also getting older and shouldn’t be hoisting older or heavyweight patients onto a table.
  3. Third, power tables are good for the physician’s business, because they show patients that the doctor is high-tech and concerned about their comfort, safety and dignity. And, all things considered, they don’t cost that much money.

Good for the Patient:

The demographics say it all, says Paul Siepmann, vice president for The Brewer Co., based in Menomonee Falls, Wis. Brewer just introduced its first power procedure table, the ASSIST, at HIDA 2003 in Baltimore. The company introduced its ACCESS exam table in July 2001.

“Patients will need more help getting up and onto a table and getting into position for various procedures,” says Siepmann. “Another factor is that obesity is on the rise. With that comes more challenges in positioning the patient.”

Patients can sit in a power procedure table as if it were a chair, adds Vanessa Parrish, director of marketing for Brewer. The doctor can move the patient’s legs up and down. A pelvic tilt mechanism allows the caregiver to position a patient with anaphylactic shock, so that blood goes to the head. Females can be positioned for gynecological examinations and procedures, with better and easier access. The list goes on, she says.

“A power table gives a really positive impression as the patient walks in that [the doctor is] competent, and that the environment is clean, safe and non-threatening. And the power table is a clean, nice, sophisticated looking piece of equipment.”

Good for the Caregiver:

Just as power tables are good for patients, so too are they good for caregivers, say manufacturers. That’s an important point for reps to get across.

“Many injuries in clinical environments occur when maneuvering the patient onto the table,” says Parrish. “Power tables allow for a safer environment for physicians. That’s one of the pitches that reps have to make to the doctor.”

Reps should approach the topic directly, by asking questions about the physician’s practice, continues Parrish. “Power tables sell themselves once you understand the practice and the patients it’s serving,” she says.

“Often, when you’re trying to sell a customer anything – and it doesn’t matter if it’s a power table or not – the first thing they’ll tell you is, ‘I don’t need it,’” says Moorman. “But that’s not true. If you look past what they’re saying, you will see that they’re taking care of patients who are 75 or 80 years old, people in wheelchairs and walkers. They’re dealing with patients who weigh 300 or 400 pounds. They truly need [a power table].

Good for the Doctor’s Business:

Economics can help sell the power table as well. Naturally, selling a more expensive power table instead of a manual box table is good business for the distributor and the rep, whose commission check will be higher. The doctors who purchase power tables also enjoy economic benefits, say manufacturers.

Consider that power procedure tables allow family practitioners to do more in-office procedures than ever, hence improving their cash flow.

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, you had to go to hospital for many procedures, but now these are being done in the physician’s office,” says Parrish. That helps keep the revenue in the physician’s office. And the reality is, doctors can’t do these procedures efficiently on a box table, she says.

Naturally, doctors might get the shivers when they see the price tag of a power table. But if the rep can help them understand life cycle cost, tax implications and financing options, he or she can minimize that initial negative reaction.

“A lot of times, when you try to sell physicians any piece of capital equipment, they’ll say, ‘I want something cheap. I don’t need all that,’” says Moorman. In too many cases, the rep will immediately fall back to a less expensive product, in this case, a manual box table.

“But here’s a question I like to ask,” he adds. “‘Doctor, I have inexpensive tables that I can sell to you.

But before you decide, let me ask you, how long do you plan on keeping your table?’ Usually the answer is ‘Forever’ or ‘Till I die or go out of practice.’

“They’re thinking, ‘I’m spending this money here and now.’ But salespeople have to wake them up to the fact that this is not a purchase for today. It’s a lifetime investment.

“‘If you’re going to have this for the rest of your life, let me show you what you should buy or at least consider. Think about it, Doctor. You have patients who are 75 years old already. What are they going to be like five years from now? What are you going to be like five years from now?’

In fact, the feds offer a 50 percent tax credit for those buying equipment that improves access for the disabled. (Even so, this is something that the physician might want to discuss with his or her tax advisor.) What’s more, Section 179 of the tax code allows businesses to accelerate depreciation on new capital equipment. Finally, the trade-in value of a power table will almost surely exceed that of a manual table.

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