What’s the Effect of Obamacare on Medical Sales Reps?

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By Robyn Melhuish:

All professionals have complaints about their jobs. A micromanaging boss, a particularly demanding client, annoying coworkers – these professional challenges may impact an individual’s job satisfaction, but they are not limited to any one industry or profession. However, the healthcare industry is facing a unique set of challenges in the form of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that could greatly impact career satisfaction for healthcare providers, administrators, and any of the other millions of people employed in the industry.

Medical sales professionals are just one example of a segment of the industry that will be impacted by the ACA, also known as Obamacare. A recent MedReps.com survey found that these professionals report high levels of career satisfaction (along with high earnings), but the unknown impact of the ACA is causing feelings of uncertainty and stress.

While some say the influx of new patients created by the ACA should boost medical sales, others say the regulations and taxes created by the Act will limit med reps’ access to customers and potentially kill medical device jobs and destroy innovation. The ACA is sure to impact medical sales professionals in some way, but how will it impact career satisfaction?

Let’s look at this on a broader scale:

Changes for medical sales

Health insurance will be more accessible with Obamacare, which means many doctors should see an influx of new patients. While this means more potential consumers for a medical representative’s products, it also means doctors will have tighter schedules, making it harder to secure a meeting or perform a product demo. Additionally, new regulations designed to prevent doctors from making decisions based on gifts or relationships provides difficult challenges for those who want to get one-on-one time with customers.

Another challenge may be relearning how a given product or drug will be reimbursed in the new system. Already cost-conscious administrators will be even more focused on price, which can make the sales process all the more challenging.

Factors that may influence job satisfaction

Surveys suggest that medical sales reps are happy because of the high amount of flexibility, great commissions, exceptional customers, autonomy, and the difference they can make in the medical community. Though it’s too early to say exactly how the ACA will impact these benefits of medical sales jobs, it’s safe to assume that legislation of this size and scale will most certainly disrupt the status quo.

Challenges with vendor access and a more price-conscious buyer could negatively affect commissions. Tightened government regulations will limit interactions with the very customers that reportedly make the job so meaningful. Flexibility and autonomy may also be in short supply as once trusting supervisors become micromanagers in an effort to gain some sense of control in a rapidly changing market.

How to adjust appropriately

As the rollout of the ACA continues, America sits in judgment as to whether or not the legislation can attain its goal of helping the country’s uninsured. The outcome remains to be seen, but the end goal for medical sales reps hasn’t changed: To provide the best products and services to healthcare providers, who can then translate these benefits to their patients.

If you’re a medical sales rep, while you may not have as much access to doctors, remember that being busy can work in your favor. If doctors don’t have the time to schedule a meeting, they likely don’t have the time to fully research new drugs or devices either. So now more than ever, medical professionals will rely on you to provide the educational information they need. You will continue to assist them with the backend work, cultivating your relationship in the process.

In addition, while you may not have the same sales process you were once used to, you now have the chance to assist a wider base of patients with your product, creating even more of an impact. The way you go about it will likely change, but you can still make a difference in the lives of both healthcare providers and patients.
Since the ACA doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, it’s best to embrace the opportunities the new law presents while finding new ways to tackle the inevitable challenges.

What do you think? What are some other ways medical sales reps will need to adapt for the ACA?

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