When established medical device companies roll out new products, they are typically backed by large sales force deployments, media fanfare of the “life-saving” benefit of the new tool, and a sea of collateral for potential buyers. But, to generate significant sales buzz for a new operating room suite, R&J developed a program targeted at an unusual audience for medical devices: architects.
MAQUET Inc., a subsidiary of the Swedish-based Getinge Group and one of the oldest and largest surgical equipment companies in the world, quietly completed North America’s first installation of its advanced, prefabricated VARIOP operating room system in Spartanburg, S.C. VARIOP enables hospitals and surgical centers to reconfigure spaces very quickly with minimal disruption, versus the chaos hospitals experience with traditional construction.
VARIOP’s flush wall and ceiling surfaces, futuristic sliding entry doors, and equipment hook-ups imbedded in the materials represented a large step forward in the “look” of hospital rooms, appealing to architects’ sense of design. Through research, R&J determined architects – primary influencers of hospitals’ and surgical centers’ renovation capital purchasing decisions – had an information gap in new medical device technologies that affected operating room design. In the case of VARIOP, R&J saw an opportunity to let architects experience life in the advanced operating suite through the eyes of doctors and nurses.
- R&J’s strategy was to let architects “kick the tires” in an actual VARIOP setting.
- MAQUET had recently completed the installation of 12 VARIOP operating suites at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center.
- R&J identified the most influential U.S. architectural firms that work with hospitals, and invited 15 architects to take part in this exclusive experience.
- As architects entered the hospital, they were guided to a presentation room where key members of the hospital’s decision making team – including the CEO, lead architect, head of facilities, surgical services director, and quality control leader – discussed their perspectives and benefits of working with VARIOP.
- Architects were then given the opportunity to experience firsthand, what medical staff do when entering a VARIOP suite for the first time.
- Called “scrub in,” all tour attendees changed into hospital scrubs, head bonnets and even medical booties to begin the tour.
- Architects were encouraged to touch the materials, see how the rooms are assembled, and study the environment over several hours.
- The results of these experiential tours were dramatic.
- Architects carried the messages back to their clients that the system can save hospitals large amounts of money in remodeling, renovations and repairs; VARIOP offers physicians and patients the potential to reduce waiting times to schedule surgery due to quicker hospital room configuration times; and the suites can provide more functional operating room time due to fewer being taken out of service for new construction.
- As a direct result of R&J’s campaign, eight immediate sales leads were generated for MAQUET, leading to millions of dollars in VARIOP installments.
- This unique communications approach to an influential audience accomplished a tangible result that had a direct impact on MAQUET’s bottom line.