Social media is not all hashtags and selfies. In this episode of The Medical Sales Podcast, medical practitioner Dr. Vinod Dasa shares how social media became a platform for learning and improvement in their practice. He also talks about how it became a game-changer for medical sales representatives and provided an avenue for healthcare professionals to voice their concerns and opinions, impacting the way health care is being provided. On top of that, he shares some tips on nailing that pitch. So tune in and lock those sales in!
In this episode, we have a special guest that goes by the name of Dr. Vinod Dasa. He is a LinkedIn influencer, orthopedic surgeon, and someone that truly cares about the disparities and the things healthcare lacks. In this episode, we get into social media and its impact on healthcare from multiple perspectives, from the healthcare provider perspective, how practices are run, how it has affected Dr. Vinod Dasa and his career, what it has enhanced, what has changed, what has helped him focus on, what it has allowed him to champion and also how medical sales professionals interact with providers on social media, what was received, what’s appreciated and where is it all headed.
This is an episode for the medical sales professional, the medical sales professional leader, and the medical provider, whether you be a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or another position within healthcare that has anything to do with providing care to patients. As always, we do our best to bring you episodes that bring you interesting insights into the industry from all perspectives. I hope you enjoy this interview.
How are you doing, Dr. Dasa?
I’m doing well. Thanks.
For our audience out there, I’m going to go ahead and let you introduce yourself, Dr. Dasa.
My name is Dr. Dasa. My clinical area of focus is around the adult knee, so sports and adult knee construction, then pretty much everything in between. I have some entrepreneurial ventures that I’m working on. We do a fair amount of research around health disparities and inequities. We’ve got a lot of work in that space, so it’s a broad range of areas.
You utilize LinkedIn quite a bit. That’s one of your big platforms. You’re on there. You have a very good presence. Talk to us a little bit about what a platform like LinkedIn is doing for healthcare from your perspective.
Especially from the physician’s perspective, no one heard our voice until social media because when anyone thought about healthcare, everyone knew that physicians were important to this. We never had an opportunity to say anything because everything was through the AMA or through our specialty organization. At an individual level or a person in the trenches level, you never understood how we thought and what the challenges were from our perspective.
Social media has fundamentally changed who’s allowed to speak, how that gets interpreted, and from whose perspective information is given. The ability for people in the trenches doing the day-to-day work, to be able to share our experience and share our perspective on healthcare, what we like about it, what we don’t like about it, and where we think it should change from our day-to-day experiences is important.
That’s what I’ve seen happen with social media. It’s the ability to democratize the space and this knowledge sharing that we’ve never had before. We published this paper around the transition from a KOL to a DOL, the Key Opinion Leader, which was someone who was at a research meeting on the podium while everyone was listening to them because they did the research and were the authority in a space. They had the research credentials to be there.
There’s a concept called a DOL, which is a Digital Opinion Leader, where it’s not necessarily someone from the ivory tower on the podium at a conference. It can now be the person who gets it in the middle of Arkansas, a busy, private practice person who doesn’t have time to do research or talk at a national conference. They’re giving their opinion and are now giving important information that’s resonating with a lot of people. All of a sudden, now they’re at center stage. Social media has given us the ability to democratize who we consider an expert and what information we think is appropriate. Let the community decide, not some random person who thinks they’re important, to decide what’s important.Social media has given us the ability to democratize who we consider an expert and what information we think is appropriate. Click To Tweet
From your experience, what does that translate into? What was your experience before this opportunity with social media like LinkedIn? What is your experience now? What’s different for you?
Before, I put my head down and went to work. I didn’t have any big aspirations to be on a stage or be noticed. I was frustrated with healthcare like everybody else, whether it’s EMR or decreasing reimbursements and all this stuff and healthcare changing. Beforehand, you sucked it up, and there wasn’t anything for me to do because I didn’t plan to be elected to some president of anything. This is the way it is, and we move on.
As social media has grown, you start realizing you can have a voice, and you can make a difference. That’s what has changed for me. It’s realizing who I am. Before I started getting involved in LinkedIn or even now, I was like, “Who am I?” I’m giving my perspective and opinion about what I see and what works and doesn’t work and those things. It’s resonating with people. It’s not that I’m saying I’m right or wrong. I’m putting what I think out there. The community has decided what it means, what’s right, and what’s wrong or the path forward.
It has given a voice to people who previously probably thought they were voiceless, where you don’t need to have the connections. You don’t need to have the pedigree. You don’t need to have the network and have the right business cards in order to make a difference. If you’ve got something to say and it makes sense, it allows people to have a voice and not have to be part of the old boys club.
That probably changes your career trajectory a bit because it exposes you to opportunities you didn’t know about. I’d like to believe that might change the way you’re practicing now. Would you say it takes it that far?
You’re dead on because the other thing that I’ve learned from social media is I’m getting access to information that I would have to wait for a year until I go to a meeting to learn about. I’m seeing people use innovative tools, innovative solutions, a new drug, a new way or whatever. I saw someone post something about a novel way to examine a patient. How else would I have gotten that information other than going to a national meeting and hoping I stumbled upon it, or it’s in a research article, and I’m not sifting through all of that?
It has opened up a lot of doors intellectually and experientially. From a business perspective, it’s a way to connect with people that I never in a million years could have ever imagined that I would be meeting people from around the world, all different walks of life, different companies, and different industries, where you develop a digital relationship with people and with companies. It’s fascinating to see how.
You nailed it with how much has changed. A lot of medical sales professionals are reading now. How do you receive medical sales professionals that you’ve gotten to know through the LinkedIn platform, as opposed to the way you used to interact with them?
I’m learning about how the medical sales process works, and everybody’s trying to fight Susie at my front desk to be able to get me in my office and all that stuff. Knowing that it’s getting harder to get my attention, you have to go where I am. If you still think it’s 1980, fee for service playbook, then good luck to you. This is the new world. You’ve got to have a modern playbook.
I will give another example. When I go to a national meeting, there are still sliding paper flyers under my hotel door. It’s 2022, and you think that’s how we engage physicians by sliding some glossy paper? There’s no digital engagement, yet everyone’s digital, so I agree with you. This is the space. This is where you need to be because that’s where physicians are growing. The other thing is to segment the physicians that you’re working with. You’ve got the older physicians, who may be not as tech-savvy or interested in this, the cranky people that are like, “This social thing is for my high school teenagers or whatever.”
You’ve got that group in that, and you’re not going to change them magically. You’ve got a group of physicians and providers you’ve got to call on and go old school with, which is fine. You have to recognize that there’s a spectrum now. As you get younger, you’re going to expect or have to deal with physicians or providers that are more digital and consume information in a bunch of different ways. Not only the flyer under your hotel door. You’re going to have to adjust and customize, so you need to know who your customer is.
You’ve got to understand who you’re talking to and what resonates with them. Maybe it’s digital for the younger folks and not for the older folks. It’s not going to be a one size fits all approach. You have to feel out and understand what’s what because it’s going to be harder to engage me one-on-one in person because as reimbursements go down and we switched this value-based world and all that, my time is getting less available because I got to see more patients. There’s only one direction this goes. As reimbursements went down, I got to see more patients.
I’m seeing more patients, but I don’t have 45 minutes to spend with you if you’re able to get past my front desk. You got to be concise. It’s got to be to the point. There’s a reason Twitter’s exploding. Think about that. It’s concise. Get to the point of information, and you got to be on your game. You got to understand what it is. You may have a talk track and a talking point that’s way off base for me. You may have a product. I liked this part of it. Not this part, but you’re talking about that part. You’re talking about it and wasting your time. You have to understand your customer. What are their pain points? What are they looking for? Why do you solve those pain points?
Here’s the last thing about this topic. As you said, everyone’s trying to buy it for your time, including medical sales reps on the LinkedIn platform or Twitter. Does it resonate with you when you see a sales rep with a brand? They’ve established up on the platform. Maybe they’re connected to a lot of your colleagues and given opinions. Are you receptive to anyone who hits you up with a message and gives them a little bit of time? How do you see it?
As you would imagine, I get pummeled with direct messages on LinkedIn, so that’s tough. There was a surgeon that posted an X-ray of an implant wearing out. It was crooked on the X-ray. The reps for the company got on there and started spewing the brochure stuff out of the company’s brochure. I’m like, “You lost all credibility. You haven’t quit failure here.” All the surgeons have recognized that this implant failed. Maybe it’s a surgeon’s fault. I completely understand but to be completely tone-deaf and say, “Amazing job, Dr. So-and-so,” when the X-rays are crooked or bad, you lose a ton of credibility.
You have to be authentic and genuine, but you got your compliance issues. It’s within the confines of what your company will allow you to say. You’ve got to figure out how to thread that needle and bring value. You start becoming recognized as an authority or someone worth listening to as opposed to someone that this is going to spat out and regurgitate company messaging.
It’s easy enough for us to see through it. Who are you kidding? Be sincere. Be genuine. There are ways of having a conversation where you can be critical or provide a critique. You only have to be smart about it. If you’re looking to build your brand, respect and credibility, do it. Don’t photocopy your brochure and stick it on there.
We’re talking about social media, how it has an impact on medicine, and what has changed. There’s another side of this that I know that you deal with, and that’s bringing to the surface all the different health disparities that are going on and how medicine is impacted. We talked a little bit about how these third parties rate how well a surgeon practices their craft and if there’s someone you should go to or not. It’s a little interesting how they’re coming to conclusions on who’s good and who’s not. Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about what you’ve seen in that?If you've got something to say and it makes sense, social media allows people to have a voice and not have to be part of that old guard boys club. Click To Tweet
One of the key factors for all the medical sales folks reading is this transition from a fee-for-service model to a value-based model. What we’re simply doing is we’re moving risk. We’re shifting risk from the insurance company to the hospital or me. As risk shifts, we’ve got to figure out who’s at high risk because if I’m costing the hospital money, all of a sudden, it’s a complete 180 degrees. One day, I was making them a ton of money by doing a lot of cases. All of a sudden, they’re losing money off of me.
How do you lose money off a surgeon? That blows your mind. If this is where healthcare is going and we’re starting to accept more risks, then the folks reading need to understand, “What are the things that I’m going to start paying attention to as a provider? What are the things that are going to be important to me as I start making decisions about what product I use and how I use it?” It’s all those things.
One of the challenges for me is, as risk shifts, people start looking at me and asking, “Am I a risky surgeon? Am I a hospital or an insurance company? Am I willing to bet on Dr. Dasa?” We have to understand, “What are my outcomes?” as I start analyzing how I am as a surgeon and move away from fee for service. How do I perform as a surgeon?
A lot of it is linked to my patients. If my patients live in a food desert or have food insecurity, or 45% of my patients are non-White, we know that there are differences in outcomes between White and non-White patients. If I’m taking care of a huge percentage of patients that are non-White, have food insecurity, live in a food desert, and don’t have transportation, let’s face it. I’m in the Gulf South. It is not an equal playing field down here.
What happens when I take care of these patients is their outcomes are not necessarily the same as those of people from Beverly Hills, Downtown Manhattan, or Palo Alto. If I’m going to be measured against those surgeons taking care of those patients, how does this become an equal playing field? As this happens, social media is a great place where we can start highlighting and bringing a lot of this information out in real-time.
I’m not waiting for CMS to analyze this for 6 months or 2 years. If you see US News & World Report grading system about different health systems, take a step back and say, “Does this make sense? What patients are they taking care of?” To the hospitals and physicians that didn’t make it on the list, are they truly not that good? Is the deck stacked against them? Those rating agencies and companies don’t necessarily have a robust system to do risk adjustment. Are they getting that level of detail?
You’re starting to pick winners and losers. How? Why? That’s where social media can help, where we start highlighting some of these challenges that probably a lot of your audience and folks don’t realize. My fear is, as we go down this road, we marginalize patients that are already marginalized by picking on the hospitals and the physicians that are taking care of them and analyzing them. Those things are important, so we’re actively working on research and highlighting where these issues are and what the differences are.
We published a paper. I presented this paper at the academy national orthopedic meeting. Guess how many are randomized control trials? These are the best research papers in the top-tier orthopedic journals. These are the top-notch journals and randomized control trials. You choose what variables we’re going to include in the research, age, gender, BMI, whatever you want.
These are prospective studies. How many included races or any other variable related to social determinants of health in 2017 to 2019? This isn’t like 1960 during Martin Luther King. This is now. How many prospective randomized control trials had any of those elements in their studies? Less than 10%. We are doing research. Ninety-five percent of those patients could have been White and wealthy.
These are the challenges that we’re facing. This is how healthcare is moving. From my perspective, this is one of the areas where social media helps where I can bring this information out and highlight where healthcare’s going and do my part. I’m not going to be able to save the planet. I’m not going to cure world hunger. I bring it up, and maybe the right person sees it. It resonates with them, and something happens. You have to try. That’s my philosophy and how social media helps from a bunch of different angles. Not only trying to create a brand or something like that.
I love it. You’re bringing attention to this. Where can people find you and more of your information, Dr. Dasa?
On LinkedIn, I’m there. You can find me on Twitter. We’ve started new social media in the education platform called Doc.social. There, we’ll bring all of the healthcare together into a singular platform so we can all learn and teach each other in a number of different ways.
Dr. Dasa, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you for the time.
That was Dr. Vinod Dasa. I liked that interview because it was pretty cool to see someone so passionate about addressing the disparities within healthcare, getting traction on such a public platform, and uniting a whole other group of people that see the same issues and want to do something all the way down to how clinical trials are run, making sure that the right patients are represented, and the right institutions have the right support to provide all patient groups better care.
You might be somebody out there that’s a medical sales professional, or you want to be a medical sales professional. You’re reading and saying, “How do I get part of this world? What do I need to do to create or find an opportunity for myself, have a customer like Dr. Dasa, be able to step onto a platform like LinkedIn, contribute to the conversation and let my voice be heard that’s not only supporting whatever it is I sell or what disease state I am working within but my own ideas and passions around the industry?”
If that’s you, if you’re someone that wants to get into the industry and you’re looking to become a medical sales professional, then I want you to go to EvolveYourSuccess.com and select, Attain Medical Sales Role. Follow the prompts and ultimately get in touch with someone from the Evolve Your Success team that will show you how you can make your dream of being a medical sales professional a reality.
For you medical professionals out there, a lot of medical sales professionals read this and are looking for ways to do business better. They’re looking for ways to be more effective, get better access, and provide more value to people like Dr. Vinod Dasa or different staff, nurses, PAs, or a completely different disease state. It doesn’t matter. If it’s within the healthcare space, you’re a medical sales professional looking to provide more value.
Get in touch with us and have a conversation about the things you can do to take your career to the next level, take your numbers to the next level, and provide value to your customers that they’ve never seen before. It’s that type of value where they remember your name and think of you every time a certain type of patient walks in. As always, we do our best to bring you guests who give you insights into the medical sales industry, insights into health care, and the way healthcare is practiced from all perspectives, from the patient all the way to the provider. Make sure you read another episode of the blog.
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