Today’s guest is Courtney Richards, the founder and CEO of DMEconnected. Courtney has been a medical representative in the durable medical equipment industry for almost a decade. Seeing the need for a centralized source of information to connect providers to vendors, he created DMEconnected. It’s an online marketplace for medical providers to find the best vendor or medical sales rep in the area to help out with their patient needs. In this episode, Courtney shares with Samuel Gbadebo his journey from medical representative to entrepreneur. Join in the discussion and learn about the importance of relationships and why being solution-based is essential in entrepreneurship.
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The Journey From Medical Representative To Entrepreneur With Courtney Richards
We have a guest who comes from the medical sales space. He decided to take a step towards entrepreneurship and stepped in to create a company called DMEconnected. They provide a service that allows representatives and the staff of the providers to communicate in a seamless fashion to get all the products and services they need for their patients. It’s not an uncommon service but it’s a service that does not have too many competitors. DMEconnected is a growing player in the space. We have with us Courtney Richards. He’s going to get into it with us about what he does at DMEconnected. As always, thank you for reading the blog. I hope you enjoy the interview.
Courtney, how are you doing?
I’m good, Samuel. How are you?
I’m fantastic. You’ve got a lot to share with us and I’m so glad to have you on the show. I’m going to go ahead and let you introduce yourself. Please tell our audience who you are and what you do.
My name is Courtney Richards. I am the Founder and CEO of DMEconnected. DMEconnected is an online marketplace for medical providers to find the best vendor or medical sales rep to help out with their patient needs.
Let’s get into that a little bit because some people know exactly what you’re talking about but some people don’t. Talk to us a little bit more about that process, what that looks like, and why your service is beneficial.
In layman’s terms, it’s a marketplace. When we’re saying medical providers, we’re talking about nurses, RTs, medical assistants, or anyone that’s part of that medical staff. When they need to find detailed information on a vendor or a sales rep that can help them out with the patient’s medical equipment or services, then they’ll go to DMEconnected. That’s who we are and that’s what we do.
How is this different than a nurse? For example, having an established relationship with the representative and know when to call that person, where does a service like yours come into play there?If you know anything about durable medical equipment and medical devices, it's a very hard job. You need to build your relationships. Click To Tweet
Pre-pandemic, we spoke to medical providers and medical offices. They let us know that they were seeing about 10 to 12 reps per day. These reps are dropping off information, always soliciting them for orders and patients, and to help them out. COVID happened and a lot of these medical sales reps are locked out of the office because they don’t want any type of contamination that’s going on. They’re trying to limit the foot traffic that’s coming in. We’ve heard from some of our vendor partners that, “We can’t even get in and speak to them.” That’s where DMEconnected comes in.
Pre-COVID, they were reaching out to multiple reps to try and help them out. They will do a Google search or go through their file folder of auto forms and information that people have dropped off to them. They’ll be doing back and forth texting with the sales rep. That’s what it used to go on before. When we came up with the system, we’re helping with the inefficiency of those processes because now, you don’t have to search for anything. We partnered with the vendors that you work with. We get all your information in one centralized location and then we offer the service to the medical provider for free.
What I want to understand is how does the rep play into this service? Are they removed from interacting with the office as much?
No. That’s the great thing about it because I’ve been a rep for many years and that’s the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted that personalized service with the vendors, medical staff, and so forth. What we did was that we came up with a sales rep portal. One of the problems that they’ve faced is that no matter how good of a rep you are, even if you’re coming from the industry, you will never be able to touch everyone. With DMEconnected, what we’re doing is that we’re increasing your footprint in these medical offices in the hospitals so that, in turn, we’ll help you to be able to establish more business and relationships.
Why? When medical staff members are looking for anything, they can go into our sales rep portal and put exactly the service they’re looking for and the zip code. It will be able to bring up the sales rep and say, “Samuel, I’m looking for a wound VAC therapy and I see that you represent it. Can you stop by and give me a call? I want to do an in-service.” That’s one of the ways that we help out with the sales reps as well. Also, by having all their information in one centralized location is more efficient when they need to get contact. Even through the web application that we offer or through our Alexa system that we offer our medical systems, this is efficient for getting in contact with the sales reps.
If a nurse has a sales rep in mind that they want to contact but they need the service and they tell another nurse, “Go ahead and look up what we need,” and they find a different rep, how does it work? If the nurse wants to use rep A and they look at the service and rep B is offered to them because it’s available in the system, how has that reconciled? What happens?
That’s why we said, “This will never replace a rep. A rep got to continually maintain and build that relationship with that medical practice.” What we do like to tell the reps is to become a little bit more personalized in their actual profile to let the medical office know about them a little bit more if it’s their favorite sports team, education, or how long they have been in the industry because this is their digital profile. This is your first 30 seconds of introducing to this clinic if you’ve never had a relationship with them. That reconciliation that we speak about is up to the medical office, but at least you’ll be on that list and within that playing field. If you have that existing relationship and they need to get in contact with you or they can’t find your business card or get a hold of a phone or something, they have everything there. They can send emails out of the system. We added a new feature now where they can do face-to-face speaking like how we do. These are always helping out the medical rep. They always have that relationship.
This is innovative. I can’t wait to hear more about how this all works and I know you best explain it. First, we have to get into who you are and how you even came to discover this. Let’s walk it back. Take us to the beginning.
I’ve been in the field for several years. I’ve been closely working in the healthcare industry for close to fifteen years. I started working in the durable medical equipment and home health services for one of the nation’s largest providers. I was assigned a branch with a team and we had to grow that business. If you know anything about durable medical equipment and medical devices, it’s a very hard job. You’ve got to build your relationships. You’ve got to be involved with operations to make sure patients are being taken care of and delivered. You’ve got to build a relationship also with the medical staff. You have to stay ahead of insurance changes. There are so many changes.
When I first came into the industry, they told me, even in training, “The likelihood of you learning the industry is going to take you about six months. That’s because many things happen before you start becoming comfortable with it.” When I started way back, it’s when they used to give you a guarantee. At the end of the month, they gave you a guaranteed commission to hold you over because they understood how complex that industry was.
Did you do durable equipment out of college?
No. This was my first healthcare job dealing specifically with medical providers and on the patient. Before that, I was in telecommunications work with hospitals but on the communication end. I got with the large provider that I spoke about. That was when I was doing that face-to-face interaction, speaking with doctors, assuring them that we can take care of their patients, and rolling our business and bottom line to make sure we can keep the lights on.
You were a telecommunication sales rep and then you became a durable medical equipment sales rep?
In telecommunications, you said you were initially working with hospitals. Is healthcare the focus you’ve always had? Is it like you’ve always known you’ve wanted to be in that space?
I’ve always known that I want to be in that space. My mother worked in the medical industry for 30 plus years at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. I’ve always had that connection with it. Also, one of my aunts was a nurse in Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, New York for many years as well. I was always drawn to that industry. In the Caribbean household coming from Jamaica, they always said, “Get into healthcare.” It was even healthcare mechanics. That was the safest bet. Growing up, I was always fascinated with health and helping people out. I moved from telecommunications to have a more face-to-face interaction so I can learn the industry in and out. My overall personality, I came from a big family. I have eight brothers. We were always happy to go in and help each other. Helping each other has always stuck and resonated with me. I wanted to go out there and help as many people as possible. I had to figure out a way on how I can broaden my footprint.
Were you born and raised part of your life in Jamaica or were you born here?
Yes, I was born in Jamaica. I came to America when I was seven and then I spent the rest of my time in New York City. I was living in Atlanta where I built up my knowledge base in the healthcare space. Now, I’m in the Miami area.Even when you work on any sales rep, you have to understand that you are your own business. Click To Tweet
Telecommunications to a sales rep in durable medical equipment. Was that an easy jump for you to make? Was that a bit of a challenge? How did you get into that role?
When I first came in, it was a challenge. I’ll put it like this. The company I was working with in my particular area, there were many challenges because there wasn’t a rep in that area for a very long time. When no one was in the area for a long time, things fell between the cracks and then there was no dependency. These medical providers in the offices in hospitals want someone that they can depend on that’s going to be there 24/7. We always said, “If you can control the flow of the information for your company, then you will be successful.”
Give us an example of durable medical equipment.
Durable medical equipment ranges anywhere from a nebulizer to a hospital bed to high-tier items such as oxygen and ventilators. It’s such a very broad space. When it’s taught in the global medical equipment industry, they usually give you key focus products. That’s what they did for myself. They gave us the five key focus products that we have to work on and generate revenue for. Everything else, even though we helped assist hospital providers with that, you’re going to get paid off of it. Because of my personality, I was helping people out with, for example, hospital beds. Someone will call and say, “I need a hospital bed, bariatric walker, or something,” and I will still help them out because even I was paid, my job was to build that relationship.
Who’s your call point in that space?
My call points were physicians, first of all. That’s everyone’s call point. You’ve got to get through one of the physicians. You’ve got to build your relationship with anyone who’s placing the orders. That could be a DME coordinator sometimes. That could be a respiratory therapist sometimes. It could be a nurse and then you had some influences that were the front-office staff members. That’s the lens sometimes. Our call points were so wide. You have to go and you’re going deep and go wide and build your relationship with everyone. Sometimes you have influencers that you can speak to them and say, “If you see this particular type of patient, I’m your guy.” From there, you can build your relationship with everyone.
How long were you in this role?
Eight years. I learned a tremendous amount about people in general. That’s one of the things when you come in as a sales rep. You have to be able to be a personable person and understand people’s challenges. It’s not always about selling. It’s solution-based. When I first came into the space, the first thing I wanted to do was say, “Call me for everything.” I want to be that source that can help you all with everything.” By that, you start with a large panel and they can narrow down and say, “These are the things that I need to focus on to keep my branch open.” That’s what I can tell you.
You were there eight years. What was the next move?
The next move was I went onto the manufacturing end, which was a larger company. They’re worldwide but they did more than just distribution. When I was in the durable medical equipment industry, these branches were more like distributors. I went directly and worked for a manufacturer.
Can you share with us who that was?
Yes, that was Philips. It’s a phenomenal company. The company culture is great. It’s a great honor and deal of them as well. When I was at durable medical equipment, I started to grow a good strength in respiratory. That would be my bread and butter. When I went over to Philips, I worked with the respiratory team. That was when I started to do percussion Vest Therapy and Cough Assist Therapy. The team that I worked with was tremendous in how they took the details to teach you about the product, which was more than durable medical equipment but then how it affects that patient. That’s when you build up your industry knowledge. You can have an educational conversation with physicians about the do’s, don’ts, and why you can be better than someone else.
What prompted the move from durable medical equipment into this more targeted space within Philips?
They recruited me. I was doing phenomenal numbers in durable medical equipment. Even in durable medical equipment sometimes, you start being burnt out. Like what I said, you cannot touch everything even though you tried. I was working nights. I was working weekends. I was on vacation and people were calling me because they built that trust on, “Courtney can assist them with this patient.” That’s what I brought to Philips. When I got to Philips, I felt a relief like I didn’t have to worry about the bent metals, walkers or canes. I have to take care of all of that when I was at the other company, but now I was more focused and specialized. I can speak with pulmonary and all the other call points and let them know about the product and how we’re better.
You’re at Philips. You’re doing your thing. What happened within Philips that turned you on to entrepreneurship and brought you to where you are now?
Entrepreneurship was always in me. Even when you work on any sales rep, you have to understand that you are your own business. You’ve got to understand your employee is more along like your partners. That’s how I like to look at it. As a business owner, I looked at it like, “Philips and that particular department was going through the same problems and issues as the durable medical equipment call point.” I noticed these inefficiencies within these medical offices where you can build a strong relationship, but at the end of the day, people are going to go with the path of least resistance.
I can go into a medical office, do an in-service, and teach them about the products and everything else, but when it comes time to place that order for that patient, how are they getting your information? Are you readily available to answer their question that can help them out? They’re seeing tons of patients. One practice that I’ve seen had multiple providers, but they said they see about 89 patients per day. Think about when it comes time to place an order for any type of medical equipment or services. It’s the same thing with home health. That’s why these companies spend millions of dollars to pay their sales team to try and get on this list. They have this list and that’s the vendors’ list. If you’re one of the ones that’s not on that list, it’s very hard to break into.
You saw a gap. You clearly saw a need and said to yourself, “I want to do something about it.” I know there was more involved in that. You had to maybe talk to somebody, whether it be a physician, nurse, or colleague. Walk us through what made you confident enough to take the leap and say, “I’m going to put all of my energy and focus in addressing this need.”If you can control the flow of the information for your company, then you will be successful. Click To Tweet
The difference between Philips and my previous employee is with Philips, we had in-services and lunches where you sit with physicians and the high-tier of that office, whether it’s an office manager and administrator. We speak to them about day-to-day challenges. One day, I went out with a nurse practitioner. I said, “You know everything about my product. You know me. I’ve known you for a couple of years. Answer me. How do you place your orders when you get ready to?” She said, “Courtney, I go to this little file folder on my desk. I have everyone’s order form. I have every business card. I scan them and I put them in these individual folders.” I said, “That’s why you have medical assistance for.”
She said, “Yes, Courtney, but they always have a lot going on. They always have different stuff in different places. I need to be able to get to this quickly. Sometimes, I go to my file folders, print it out, and hand it to them. They’re the ones who do the fulfillment of it and all the documentation, and then I sign a prescription.” I was like, “This is the same thing I’ve been talking about for a very long time. I need one centralized location.” I, myself in the field, I’m in a hospital. I’m dealing with a wound VAC patient and a surgeon, and then I get a call. There’s someone who needs a ventilator. They say, “Courtney, I want to place this order, but I don’t have your order forms. Can you send it over to me?”
Me being in the field for many years, I had a fillable PDF. I can email it to them. When I get back to the branch, I can fax or email it to them. There were many different ways I got across to them. It was the multitude of different calls that I kept getting like, “What insurance do you accept? I need a patient to go to your branch. What’s the address?” There are many of these little intricate things that are going to break down your day and hold you back from doing what you’re supposed to be doing. That’s when I had that confidence to say, “This is a need within the industry because it’s not only with the previous company or Philips. I speak to my sales rep partners as well.”
Even between us, sometimes we would call in and say, “Do you accept Medicare for this patient?” There’s so much that you cannot remember in the medical practice, they’re not going to remember that either at the hospitals. That’s what I say confidently, “This is something that needs to be done. I feel wholehearted about it because I have blood, sweat, and tears that I could tell people’s stories on how we had to rework the order because it was the wrong order form or we received an order and I had to send it back when we didn’t accept that insurance.” I can tell you tons of stories, but I don’t want to ramble.
We are going to stop there so you can tune in for part two with Courtney Richards. Anything that helps a business, professional, or provider, you name it. Anything that helps anyone be more efficient is useful. What I love hearing about Courtney’s story specifically is how he saw the inefficiencies in the field and said, “Something needs to be done about this. How can I do something? How can I contribute to get in front of the solution?” DMEconnected was born and to infuse Alexa into it and make it as seamless as possible, especially moving into the future where we can utilize these audio capabilities to do whatever we need to be done. It’s something to see and an exciting thing to watch. Courtney is going to get more into it in part two. We’re not only going to get a taste of what he’s specifically been doing when it comes to Alexa with DMEconnected, but we might get a little sample of how he does it. Thank you again for reading the blog.
As always, if you’re someone who’s looking to get into a role like this, you want to be a pharmaceutical sales rep, a medical device sales rep, or you’re looking to get into genetic testing sales, there’s something in the medical sales space, then make sure you reach out on LinkedIn to Samuel Adeyinka or visit our website at EvolveYourSuccess.com and follow the prompts. You’ll be able to get in touch with us and we can talk about how we can get you into a program that has been so successful in getting professionals where they want to be in the medical sales space. Of course, if you’re a performer out there, you’re someone that you’re in your career or you’ve been promoted to a position and you’re saying, “I want to take it by the reins and do something amazing. I want to start with a strong brand and foundation and make things happen,” then take a look at EvolveYourSuccess.com. Follow the prompts, visit our page and look up for Improve Sales Performance.
This is also something that leaders can utilize. If you’re looking for something to get your team where they need to be, then reach out to us. As always, I am so grateful for all of my readers out there who are reading the blog, getting valuable insights into what they want to do with their careers, how they want to lead better, how they want to perform better, and how they want to make an even bigger impact in the things they do every day. Continue reading. Again, make sure you tune in the next episode for part two with Courtney Richards.
- Courtney Richards – LinkedIn
- Samuel Adeyinka – LinkedIn
- Improve Sales Performance tab – Evolve Your Success
About Courtney Richards
Born in Kingston, Jamaica. Raised in Brooklyn, New York. I am the Founder/C.E.O. of DMEconnected. With over 10+ years of experience in the healthcare field. I made my bones in the Medical Device and Home Health Care space. I attended Graphic Communication Arts in NYC and the New York Institute of Technology.
I am naturally a creative person with an interest in the arts and technology. My story began working in the Printing/Advertising industry and I decided to make a career change because I felt uninspired by the work I was doing. I wanted to be in a career that was more front-facing and what I felt was making a difference in people’s lives.
Known for being fearless and a risk-taker, I decided to leave my “9-5” and a steady income and tackle my dreams full time as an entrepreneur/business owner. I created DMEconnected, which is a marketplace for medical providers to find information on vendors, products, and medical sales reps to help with their patients.
We also developed our Acacia Software. Acacia works hand in hand with an artificial intelligence platform that allows medical providers to find the information they are looking for by using voice prompts. Once the information is retrieved, it can be relayed back to the end-user by voice, visual display, or email.
I am passionate about making changes in the health care industry that will have a positive outcome on patients’ lives.
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