Clinically Speaking

Clinical Development for Rehab Providers: Effective Methods & Diversity in Approach

It’s a difficult task for rehab providers to keep their businesses running efficiently and effectively in our everchanging industry. Medicare changes and funding cuts certainly present a challenge to keeping businesses thriving while providing clients with the most appropriate equipment based on their needs.

Effective clinical development is an essential ingredient to achieving these goals.

It is critical to develop and enact a clear clinical development strategy. This includes:

  • Cultivating new clinical relationships.
  • Maximizing resources at your disposal.
  • Proactively creating diversity.
  • Developing an infrastructure to support and maintain your overarching goal.

Thirty percent of full-service, complex rehab business is generated from rehab facilities, and your clinical development strategy must target gaining business in this area. However, gaining referrals from facilities on a regular basis is not something that happens overnight. Becoming a regular supplier within a facility requires strong product and clinical knowledge; the ability to develop relationships with the decision-makers and rehab team at the facility; and most importantly, sharing the ultimate goal of meeting the needs of each client.

So, how do we maximize the development of clinical referral sources and create strong business partnerships to serve the rehab client population?

The key to gaining referrals through facilities is to establish mindshare. You want to be at the forefront of the minds of clinicians when they need to provide their clients with rehab seating & mobility equipment.

Research Builds the Groundwork

The first step in clinical development and establishing a strong relationship with a rehab facility is to know the facility background, the clients it services, the facility’s goals, and all of the people involved in the client rehabilitation process.

Become familiar with the facility’s client base, and be sure to have knowledge of the clients’ diagnoses and rehabilitation needs for those diagnoses. It is important that clinicians are able to discuss, in detail, a client’s needs with you. This will continue to build the clinician’s trust in you for future referrals.

Communication Is Key

In order to build and maintain strong clinical relationships, it is important to determine what that particular facility’s clinicians focus most on and provide the services tailored for that. Every facility can be different based on specific client population, specialized units, main products they spec, inpatient, outpatient, etc.

Many facilities have multiple units within the same location that have different specialties and focuses. For example, it is important to focus the majority of your in-services and communication on topics that your audience wants to hear and that are prevalent to their daily interaction with their specific client population. Discuss updates on products that the clinicians are already familiar with, and provide training on products that the clinicians would use more frequently. Having vast knowledge of rehab product offerings will continue to increase your value within a facility.

Deliver Service & Demos

Top-notch service is another key to creating a strong presence within a facility. Prompt follow-through, consistent exposure, high responsiveness, excellent listening skills, and regularly scheduled in-services will continue to help gain and maintain clinician trust and comfort level with you. Another piece of this equation is to ensure that each facility you service has access to demo products. You must ensure that the demo products being used for each facility fits with their needs and is also the product that the clinicians have requested. This is where it is very important to communicate demo product needs to your manufacturer representatives.

But it doesn’t stop at just having demo product available. The demos being used for the facility must be in good working condition and have the options and accessories that the facility requires. Demo products should be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure they are still relevant to the facility’s needs.

Knowing & Valuing the Needs of Clients

The final piece to establishing long-term and successful partnerships with rehab facilities is having excellent interaction skills with not only the clinicians and rehab team within the facility, but with the clients themselves.

Clients in a rehab facility who are in need of rehab mobility equipment usually have a large number of unanswered questions, in addition to stress, uncertainty, and concern about the state of their future function and mobility. It is imperative that when applicable, clients are fully engaged with the clinical team in the decisions being made about their mobility.

We must remember that the client is part of the clinical team and must have direct input in the products they receive. The client needs to have clinical trials and training on any of the products they may be receiving to ensure an adequate level of comfort.

A client’s independence and quality of life with their mobility products is always maximized when they have played a role in the decision-making and goal settings throughout the entire process. Successful outcomes are always increased when clients understand the goals and feel their personal needs are being addressed.

This article originally appeared in the Seating & Positioning March 2011 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Jay Brislin, MSPT, is the director of Quantum Product and Clinical Development for the Quantum Rehab division of Pride Mobility Products (Exeter, Pa.). He can be reached via email at jbrislin@pridemobility.com or by phone at 800-800-8586.

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