The world is changing, medicine is changing and the way medicine is being practiced is changing fast. The remote medical office is a thing now, and medical practices are starting to adopt this trend in droves.
Tune in as your host Samuel Adeyinka sits down for a conversation with Dr. Steven Kupferman about a company that helps clinicians transform their offices into virtual offices with highly qualified staff that can work remotely. Every time he shares this breakthrough service for clinicians, he attains happy clients.
In this second installment of this two-part series, Dr. Kupferman shares his take on the future of marketing to physicians through social media.
Tune in right now and learn!
We are back with part two with Dr. Steven Kupferman. We are going to get into the juicy details of the medical sales history that he’s seen from the beginning of his career. We are going to talk more around the world of medical sales reps in his space. We are going to get into one of the services that he provides in revolutionizing the way clinicians work. I’m not going to say anything more about that episode, but there is one thing I want to touch on.
Before we move on to this episode, there is something I want to address, and it is ageism in the medical sales space. Here’s the deal. Anyone that has the skillset, the competency, the wherewithal, the emotional intelligence, a Bachelor’s degree, which always helps, and a true drive that’s part of their core, whatever that is, to step into a medical sales role, whether it be a medical device role, a pharma role or a biotech role, you can do it.
I don’t care if you are 20, 30, 40, 50 or even 60. You can do it. Ageism is when there’s a bias against someone of a certain age for a specific role. Do I believe ageism is real? Absolutely. I see it all the time. Do I believe that should stop someone from wanting to pursue something they want? Absolutely, not. It’s because that’s real, and you want to go after something that you think you might not be a good fit for. Absolutely, not. You should go for it.
I will give you a hypothetical example. Let’s say you are 42 and have been a successful businessperson, and now, you want to enter medical sales. Maybe it’s pharmaceutical. Maybe it’s medical devices. You have a great sales record. You understand how to develop relationships. The work you have previously been doing speaks for itself but you are not sure if a hiring manager is going to take you seriously because they are eyeing that 30-year-old or even 25-year-old fresh sales rep or a more recent sales rep that they could potentially pay less that wants the same position you are interviewing for.
This world is too dynamic to believe that you don’t have a sure shot. I would go as far as to say it doesn’t matter if you are 41, 42, 43, 44 or 45. What matters is that you need to be able to answer why you are making these moves. That’s what gets lost in translation when trying to explain to other people what they can and cannot do. Anyone who wants to get into this industry with some degree, drive, and ambition, and can showcase that they can be competent within a role, can get a position. Especially if you are someone that’s had solid working experience beneath you and now you want to make a transition.
The challenge for you is not going to be that it’s going to take forever to get a position. It’s not going to be that no one is going to want you. It’s going to be that you simply need to make sure you can answer the questions because the questions are going to be, “Why do you want to start over now? Why do you want to make this transition now? What has happened in your current role when you’ve had such a great experience and set up such a track record that makes you want to transition now? What are your plans for the future? Where do you want to be in the next five years if you were to get this position now?”
Those are the questions that might be asked, and those are the questions that are floating around in a hiring manager’s mind if they are sitting in front of a person that fits what we are describing, which is a 40 to a 45-year-old individual that wants to make a career change. I must stress that if this is what you want, you need to go and do it because it can happen, and we see it happen all the time. We see entrepreneurs become medical sales reps. We see waitresses become medical sales reps. We see guys who have man bars for fifteen years become medical sales reps and scrub techs for physical and speech therapists.
The gamut runs long for all the people that can get into this space, and a lot of them were 35, 36, 37, 38, 40 or 41. If this is you and you are someone out there, and you are thinking about this but you are thinking age is the reason why you probably won’t get as far as you want, do not let that be your determining factor. Just be clear that you can explain why. Get in front of whatever someone can question and start thinking about that now.
I’m going to move on to the interview. I had to get that out there, though, because that just happened, and it made me realize that it needs to be better communicated. There are going to be natural challenges for anyone, literally. Even the ten-year seasoned sales rep that wants to be a medical device sales rep. There’s a hiring man that’s going to think, “He or she has all these bad habits we might have to untrain. I’m not sure if I want someone that seasoned,” or the five-year rep. They are probably going to say, “We want to do something unique with this team. We don’t even want someone with experience.”
There are many different situations for many different companies and then put a whole layer on top of that of so many different types of hiring managers and what their immediate needs are. The goal for you is to get crystal clear about who you are as a brand and what you can deliver. Sit in that and own that regardless of your age. When you sit down with whoever is hiring a manager, you can answer any question they ask you and give them the confidence that hiring you is going to be one of the best hires they have ever made. I do hope you enjoy this interview.
Again, a lot of this preceded me. Medical device and drug companies wanted to get the doctor’s attention, and doctors were very successful in the ’80s and the ’70s. They needed to go above and beyond to get the doctor’s attention. I’m assuming that they went in with good intentions to try to get the doctor’s attention. It wasn’t uncommon, at least, from my experience and from anecdotes that I heard, for doctors to be taken on vacations to wherever to be told and explained about products that were new to the market that is probably the mainstay of medicine now. There was a misuse of that privilege that medical device companies and drug companies had to teach doctors about what they were working on and what their R&D was.
At least, in my mind, the most blatant of this is probably Purdue Pharmaceutical because it’s all over TV where things were not done properly. I’m not going to speak specifically to the Purdue thing because I remember being educated by the Board of Medicine about pain, that we weren’t giving enough pain medications. In general, things were taken out of context, and people were taking advantage of this privilege. It spiraled out of control, and it’s called the Sunshine Act.
Now, there are tremendous restrictions on it. It’s working out okay in many ways. Sometimes, there’s an inability for things to get done because of that. There was probably a lot of good that came of those Hawaii vacations or whatever they were, where doctors were taught about drugs that are the mainstay of this day’s modern medicine or let’s say, plates and screws that the doctors needed to know about. They were using wires to hold bones together back then. There was a lot of good that was done there and got doctors’ attention to move medicine into the 21st century but it got out of control.
It got out of control, and you are right that it was before your time, and that was before my time as well. You only hear the stories. How has that affected how things work now? Would you say that when a new rep comes into your office, you are skeptical at first? Do you test them out? Do you assume the best and give them the benefit of the doubt? How has everything you’ve heard and what you’ve experienced as a practitioner played into what happens when a new rep comes into your office?
I think everybody or at least I, work by trust and verify. I always trust and will take many meetings with reps but I need to verify things and make sure that it’s in my best interest to spend more time learning about it and potentially using it. Probably the most recent drug, as an example that I had that I can remember, was a drug called EXPAREL, which is an injection for pain that’s given in several fields. As it pertains to me, it’s essentially what I would tell patients is a long-acting Novocain. Nobody uses Novocain any longer.
This is Marcaine or Bupivacaine, which is a very long-acting local anesthetic and it has been around for a very long time. Somebody created a liposomal version of it. It’s in a cocoon for several days, and slowly the cocoon opens up, and the molecules of the Marcaine dissolve out into this soft tissue. It numbs the area on a long-standing basis. It’s an extended-release local anesthetic. It’s a new drug, a new injection that I was going to be giving to my patients.
I started using this a few years ago when it first started coming out, and I was a little skeptical, “I don’t need that. My patients are fine. They do well with their pain. I give them a little bit of Vicodin, and they are fine.” I then started using this and realized that it became a game changer for me that less than 5% of my patients get a narcotic at this point. Whereas I used to give 20 to 40 narcotic tablets after I took out a set of wisdom teeth. Now, I don’t use it anymore.
I was one of the early people to do it because I had a connection to one of the guys who was working for the company and was friends with one of my anesthesiologists. They gave me a little lecture and told me about it. The anesthesiologist is like, “Steve, you got to try this out. It’s really good. You should use it.” I was like, “Give me a few vials and I will start using it.” I started using it and it was like, “This is incredible.”
It’s such a simple idea drug. It’s not some huge novel thing. It was such a simple idea that I wish when you start using like, “Why didn’t I think about this?” I started using it, and a few local people asked me to talk about it. Some of these well-established surgeons would call me and say, “How do you do it? How do you give it?” Now, as I said, when I was a resident, I used to prescribe 30 to 40 Vicodin after a set of wisdom teeth, and now I don’t prescribe any narcotics.
Most of the surgeons around here have jumped on and used it as well. It’s an incredible drug. Now that I told that story, I forgot what question you asked but at first, I was very skeptical about it. Once I started using it, I realized, “Why didn’t I think about this myself?” Now, I use it every day on every single set of wisdom teeth that I take out. I haven’t checked the numbers but it’s somewhere in the sub 5% of patients that get any narcotics.
I’m sure you are thinking of the rep that introduced this to you. Did they have a new level of credibility after you started using it and said, “Wow?” Did it change how you interact with reps or did it change how you interact with that rep?
To be honest, as I said, it came through a doctor who was lecturing for the company. Once we started ordering, then the rep came. The rep was lucky. The rep could have been a virtual rep working remotely. My virtual assistants order it. When we see we are running low, my nurse sends a message to one of our virtual assistants. The virtual assistant picks up the phone, calls the rep and says, “We need 500 vials of EXPAREL. They pay for it and show up, and that’s it.
On that note, these lectures that you attended, was a dinner program? Was this a lunch program? Was this something else?
It was at our annual meeting. It was a sponsored thing at the annual meeting.
Is that the annual meeting for the medical group?
No, for the oral surgeons. It was the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
If it had been a dinner program promoting this drug, would you have gone honestly?
It depended upon what would be going on in my life if my kids needed me that night or my wife.
If it hadn’t been for that annual meeting, you might still not know about it.
I would know about it because it’s probably all over but I wouldn’t have been the innovator or at least one of the early adopters of it. That was important because, as many doctors do, I know for me, in particular, I live in a community, even though it’s in a big city. I know a lot of people, and they know me. My patients get my cell phone number almost all the time.
Pain is a big deal, and these are teenagers mostly. To me, it was huge not to have to give my friends’ kids narcotics because everybody was starting to learn about that and realize how off the profession was about narcotics. I wanted them to be out of pain. These are people I know as kids. Luckily, it had been brought to my attention early on, and I jumped on it early.
This brings up an important point. It wasn’t as much the rep as it was the doctor. The reps were involved behind the scenes but when reps can find doctors that know their stuff, that are experts, and they can utilize them, it’s very helpful, and it builds credibility, especially when they are well-respected doctors.
One thing I want to talk about that is the theme of this conversation, which is remote working. You know that with COVID and everything that’s happened, reps also have become rather remote in trying to get access to providers like yourself. Tell us how do you receive that. First of all, are you on LinkedIn?
I am on LinkedIn.
Are you active on LinkedIn?
No, I’m not active, but I have virtual people helping me with my LinkedIn.
What I want to ask is the medical sales world, the medical device companies, and pharmaceutical sales companies. Let’s call them medical sales companies. They are trying to be more innovative in going along with this remote approach to everything, including medicine. Now, you have reps that are trying to get access to you remotely. I’m sure you have been getting emails. You might even get some video newsletters and be reached out on LinkedIn. I want to know from you, out of those modalities, what are you most receptive to, and if none of them, what do you think you would be most receptive to?
I don’t think that LinkedIn is necessarily the best way to get through to doctors. It’s a good way to get through to decision-makers and to people who are running medical enterprises but the typical practicing doctor who the medical rep is looking for is not LinkedIn. They are not doing that on a day-to-day basis because it’s a real-time sucker. The typical practitioner is probably using Facebook or Instagram, at least practicing physicians.
The good old going to offices is a grind for medical device reps. It still works, and door-to-door knocking is still important. I haven’t thought about too much how to get through to the typical practicing doctor but in general, I don’t think LinkedIn’s the way to go. I don’t think email is the way to go. I don’t think doctors have enough time to get through that. The typical practicing doctor is responding to patient emails all night long. I don’t think that video emails are going to fly.
You are going to get them on Facebook or Instagram but you are not going to get them with an email. Doctors want to get away from email, especially doctors that are working in large healthcare systems, because every patient has email access to them and they are emailing them at all hours, which is why burnout is so high. Again, I don’t pretend to be an expert on how to reach doctors to sell them things. I do think that there are ways to get through to doctors, and door-to-door is still a way to go.
According to Dr. Kupferman, door-to-door, Facebook, and Instagram. After this episode, if you receive a Facebook message from a rep, you would respond.
I don’t think Facebook messages are as much as advertising on Facebook because it’s an outlet for doctors. It’s an easy outlet when you are sitting in bed or doing whatever. Doctors are going on Facebook. There are Facebook groups that doctors are going on. I don’t think the Facebook message is going to work because I don’t know if they are going to sit and start messaging back and forth with a rep. If you are advertising and trying to catch someone’s attention, that’s a way to do it.If you’re advertising and trying to catch doctors’ attention, Facebook is a good platform to do it. Click To Tweet
It’s a good platform to do it.
That’s why my company advertises on Facebook.
That’s why it’s Facebook.
That doesn’t just come out of nowhere. We do that because a lot of other companies do that as well. That’s where doctors are. I don’t know how many doctors are on LinkedIn that are practicing on a day-to-day basis. We are talking about the practicing doctor. The practicing doctor is not looking to get a new job or make connections to other job places and trying to figure out other job opportunities. There are some but if they are looking for another job opportunity, it’s probably not to practice endocrinology somewhere else. They are looking to run a clinic or run a program somewhere or something. That’s the people who I think are on LinkedIn. I could be wrong.
As someone who spends quite a bit of time on LinkedIn, to your point, there are providers that don’t have time for it but then there are a lot of providers that are getting on that space to exercise thought leadership, and it’s working. A lot of the newer providers, those that are come out of residency in the last few years and are new providers now, this generation is all about social media in every profession, especially medicine. When you have your 33, 34-year-old new provider that’s out there doing his thing, he’s expecting to be on a platform like LinkedIn for thought leadership and to advertise as well for whatever he might be doing within his or her practice.
I would agree, and there’s a very small percentage of them that are working in the private sector. That’s known data. That’s why I would say less likely. I’m talking mostly about the private sector. That’s probably why I have a little bit of a different opinion on it. We are not looking for people who are working for some large healthcare system.
That is the majority now.
Although, large healthcare systems ought to look into virtual assistants because I do think that even a doctor who’s working for some large healthcare system has so much on their plate that a virtual assistant who says a nurse in the Philippines will be invaluable, and the cost is so low. If some large healthcare system called us and said, “We need 30 virtual assistants for 60 doctors who were piloting out the anti-burnout so that they have somebody there to answer their emails for them as a nurse to review them and pick out the most urgent ones,” it would help burnt-out doctors.
Are we developing a new client for you? Is that what’s happening?
As I said, it’s the biggest problem in medicine. I don’t think it’s a secret. If a healthcare group is looking to take care of their doctors, which they should be, they still are going to need to have them see patients. There are not enough doctors to see, and we can’t make enough doctors fast enough like we can’t get enough pilots fast enough to get more flights out. We can’t get doctors out fast enough. You got to make sure the ones that are there that are good don’t burn out, and the only way to make them not burn out is to support them and have a nurse basically at their beck and call all day at any time doing things in conjunction with them. That is the answer.
Before we close, I want to go in that direction. I want you to project 5 or 10 years out. Let’s go ten years out from now. Physician burnout is a very real thing, and it plays into the Great Resignation and everything that’s going on, the anticipated recession and physician burnout. They all play in the same circles. If something is not done to stifle physician burnout, where do you see healthcare going? What do you think will change or what will be impacted as this continues and it’s not well-addressed?
The trajectory is pretty clear that doctors are going to retire early. They are going to bounce out when they realize that there’s too much for them to keep on their plate to track and answer to. A small part but part of this is that one of the last saving graces of a doctor, besides the gratification of taking care of patients, the medical representatives made them feel good. They took them out to dinner. They gave them whatever it was, and that got stripped from doctors. The young guys probably didn’t know much about that but it was stripped from doctors.
It does play a small part in burnout, where the reps are getting paid more sometimes than the doctors. When you put that much responsibility on somebody, of life and death, and there’s no gratification other than saving a life, it leads to burnout if we continue to go down this path where doctors are treated like the worst of the doctors who took advantage of certain things, particularly with respect to medical device reps and what they can and can’t do with and for doctors.
Doctors have more and more put upon them, and less doctors are in the pipeline to take care of the aging population that is accelerating. We are headed for fewer people wanting to go into medicine and poor candidates going into the field. It’s not a pretty sight. Doctors are supposed to be the most glorified profession in our country, and we need to get back to that.Doctors are supposed to be the most glorified profession in our country. We need to get back to that. Click To Tweet
Your company is going to do everything it can to get back to that.
Correct. Having people handle so much of the administrative stuff for doctors wherever you are working so that you can be a doctor, take care of patients and get back to the glory days of medicine is the future.
One last thing for your company, for a practice, to say, “We want to work with you,” to fully operational with your company implemented, working, and doing it and doing what it does, what’s the timeline?
If you would go on now, you click on contact us and fill out a form. You will have an appointment with somebody within 24 to 48 hours. You will have candidates within 24 hours after that, and within a week, you will have somebody working in your office.
Is there normally a learning curve that comes into play or is a team that you have available so proficient that they can jump into almost any situation?
We have a lot of onboarding things that need to be done. We do everything we can to support all of our new clients, not only getting them the right person but helping train and pick the right person for the particular needs that they are looking for. There’s always an onboarding process that is needed for anybody but you won’t be able to find somebody this quickly to work in your office. Forget all the cost-saving benefits and all that but getting somebody to work in your office in under a week is not possible now.
We are going to have a little bit of fun before we log off. This is called the Lightning Round. I’m going to ask you four very general questions, and you are going to give me your quickest answer in ten seconds. The best book you’ve read in the last six months.
Does that mean you are not a reader or have too many books to mention? What does that mean?
I read weird books and things that you wouldn’t necessarily want to publish on the show. They are more religious books. Books about Israel, the Holocaust, and things like that.
How about your favorite book?
I would say my favorite book is The Checklist Manifesto. That’s a better choice.
I will be looking into that one. The best movie you’ve watched in the last six months?
I watched 12 Strong. It’s about the first US Military that went to Afghanistan after 9/11. They were in the mountains, and it was an incredible win in that initial war. It was a phenomenal movie.
The best meal you’ve had in the last six months.
My wife is an incredible cook. It’s pretty much on a daily basis.
Whatever she makes. You got to stay safe. I understand that. Lastly, what is the best experience you’ve had in the last six months?
I was telling you that I just came back from Bali. It’s an incredible island in a much different country than the island itself. The people there are incredible. Their customer service is far above what we provide here in our country, and we have a lot to learn from them.
Dr. Kupferman, it was awesome having you on the show. Thank you for spending time with us. We will be following you. Thanks for the time, Doctor.
Thank you. It was great talking to you.
That was Dr. Steven Kupferman with part two. It’s interesting how he’s described his take on the utilization of social media to reach providers. Facebook’s his go-to but for obvious reasons, with his company, and what an amazing thing the company is doing creating all those virtual workers for clinicians to make healthcare work that much better.
Hopefully, insurance companies will buy into what he’s offered on the episode. Maybe you read this episode, and you are thinking to yourself, “I want to work in a space like this. I want to have customers like this. I want to be able to have a good contribution to some of these issues that were brought up during this episode,” and you know medical sales is for you or maybe you don’t know where you want to be in medical sales.
You were in pharmaceutical sales, and you think about the med device or you are in a med device, and you are trying to explore what other options are out there, or you are not in med sales at all, and you are trying to see which one is a good fit for you. You now have a resource that you can go to utilize right away that will not only give you clarity on where you should be but help you get there and put you there.
That’s right there at Evolve Your Success. Go to EvolveYourSuccess.com, select Attain A Medical Sales Role, and then take a look at our medical sales program. Scroll down, read what we do, see how it works, submit some information, have a call with one of us at Evolve Your Success, and let’s get you where you want to be.
As always, we do our best to bring you innovative guests with a different perspective that are true pioneers of the industry, making healthcare, medical sales, and everything in the healthcare space work that much better. Make sure you tune in again for another episode of the show.
As a practicing physician, I have firsthand experience with the common complaints and frustrations expressed by patients, so many of which are administrative. With the cost of quality talent rising, providing your patients with customer service that’s as excellent as your medical care is getting harder and harder.
That’s why I’ve built MedVA with a fellow doctor: to help bring top-level administrative talent to medical offices at a fraction of the cost. Our VAs are all medical professionals, most of them RNs, and can quickly make a positive impact at your practice.
We’ve built and tested our processes in our own practices, and have helped 45+ practices improve their businesses with virtual employees.
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