If you’ve read any of the previous Ask Allison posts, you know that medical demonstration models are made to tell a story. As the name suggests, the stories these models tell involve some component of medicine. This can be anything from a widespread “30,000-foot view” to an intricate detail of a microscopic procedure.
Based on the nature of human medicine, our models often involve some component of anatomical representation. Pulse MDM’s anatomy models provide context for demonstration and training.
However, medical demonstration does not exclusively rely on human anatomy. In fact, in many cases, it may be preferable or even pertinent that anatomy is not included. Today we’ll dive into part one of a four-part series on the most common scenarios where our models don’t represent anatomy and why these instances provide the most compelling stories for our customers.
Today we will cover part one, DEVICE REPLICAS: a discussion on how and why device replicas are used.
Reduced Cost, Increased Demonstrations
One of the most common reasons we create device or product replicas for customers is the ability to showcase the features of a device with a much lower price tag than the product itself. It provides a level of protection for the customer by lowering the stakes of the demonstration and training while increasing access to hands-on demonstrations.
One such example of this is an amniotic tissue replica we created for a customer. Products derived from amniotic tissue have some amazing properties that make them a valuable resource in the treatment of chronic wounds.
Amniotic membrane products are derived from human tissue that should not be squandered. They are rigorously processed using sophisticated technologies, leading to a costly and valuable demo if the real product is used. Since large sales teams require a high volume of samples to equip each salesperson, it is not typically feasible to provide these teams with the necessary number of samples.
To maximize sales force efficiency, we manufactured hundreds of amniotic tissue replica samples using non-perishable, non-biologic products and non-medical manufacturing facilities while mimicking the properties of the amniotic membrane for clinically relevant demonstration and training. This kept costs drastically lower for our customers and allowed all their salespeople to provide an unforgettable, hands-on experience for their potential clients.
Another common reason for utilizing device replicas without the inclusion of an anatomical model is that some devices contain tiny, intricate details that are difficult or impossible to see with the plain eye. In these cases, our replicas can be upsized to show the fascinating details that make the device unique.
One such example is a model we made for DePuy Synthes. The model includes an upsized replica of their Fibergraft morsel alongside a vial containing the actual morsels. The Fibergraft morsels are used as bone graph substitutes.
The challenge for the DePuy Synthes sales team was that this astonishing piece of technology would require a microscope for the optimal demonstration. Our replica model solved this issue by showing the detail of the Fibergraft morsels at a much larger scale, which allowed surgeons to physically see the fibers that provide a 3D structure for cell attachment vs. relying on the hands-off video demonstration that many sales teams would use with similar products. While the surgeon is examining the upsized replica, the salesperson explains how the Fibergraft mimics the body’s natural bone healing process without the challenges of allografts.
Replicas like this allow surgeons to experience an “ah ha” moment on their own and understand the brilliance of a product at a deeper level.
Portability & Convenience
As we have talked about in previous newsletters, portability and convenience is a key part of what we do. From the point of view of a medical salesperson or trainer, a product that can’t be demonstrated or trained to its full potential is a product that is more difficult to sell.
In contrast to the previous section, there are numerous instances where a product needs to be made smaller to allow it to be more easily transported or demonstrated than the actual product would allow for. Sometimes this means scaling an exceptionally large product down or only including the necessary components for demonstration or training. Other times, this means creating a replica of a product that allows for a more convenient visualization of its functionality.
One example of a replica we created to improve portability without scaling the product down was for a mobile hemodialysis unit from Outset Medical called TabloCart. The Tablo system is a “dialysis clinic on wheels” and needs only an electrical outlet and tap water to operate.
With any new device, training and demonstration are needed, but the cost of shipping the product to numerous locations was both expensive and unnecessary, given the fact that medical staff would not need every component of the device for training.
To solve this problem while allowing Outset to tell their story, we created a replica of the TabloCart that includes an accordion-style back that can be expanded and locked into place to show the full volume of the cart during demonstration and training but collapsed to a quarter of the volume for shipping and transporting.
Additionally, the replica uses visualization of certain components that are unnecessary for training through two-dimensional images vs. the heavier, more costly, and less durable three-dimensional components.
These creative workarounds allow all necessary training to be completed for operating the device without adding the extra weight that is necessary for a fully operational TabloCart. The replica is an abbreviated version of the product without needing to change its form factor.
The increased portability saves Outset Medical significant money each time they need to ship the product. Increased portability removes the planning required to ship the product ahead of time, allowing for greater flexibility in scheduling. Increased portability allows the salespeople to transport the demo unit themselves without the logistical difficulty of locating a hospital loading dock. Increased portability allows them to do more than one demo a day. Increased portability means more demonstration, which leads to increased adoption. All of this occurs without sacrificing the lasting memorable impact of the device’s convenience and effectiveness.
Comparing Against Competitors
The final reason we will cover today for the use of replicas without involving a representation of human anatomy is the ability to compare a product against that of a competitor.
Due to procurement challenges and trademark laws, a direct comparison of a competitor’s product against a company’s own product may not be viable. In both cases, utilizing a replica of a device similar to your competitor’s may be the best option for demonstration purposes.
An example of this type of replica was one we created for a Hologic. They wished to showcase their contraceptive solution compared to a competing product.
Their product was a tiny implantable silicone device that created an occlusive barrier of the fallopian tubes bilaterally. The use of a silicone product provided a more comfortable experience for the patient while maintaining a high level of effectiveness without the need for an abdominal incision.
For this purpose, competitors used a nickel-based coil spring with pointy ends. By creating the side-by-side replicas, we were able to help Hologic and their sales team demonstrate a clear advantage in comfort and reliability just by allowing surgeons and patients to see the products together. These visual comparisons transcend any language or communication barriers.
This creates a level of distinction that leaves a lasting impact on the surgeon and the patient.
Representation of anatomy is undoubtedly a crucial part of what we help clients with at Pulse MDM and plays an equally vital role in medical training and sales. However, there are important scenarios in which anatomy is not represented when telling the story that needs to be told.
Today, we dove into this premise through the scope of device replicas. Replicas are an exceptional tool for reducing costs, scaling products to allow for optimal portability and demonstration of features, and allowing side-by-side comparisons against similar products.
As useful as device replicas are, they only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the non-anatomical models we create. In parts two through four of this series, we will delve into even more fascinating uses of non-anatomical models, including FDA compliance (demonstrating functions without breaking the rules), peeling back the anatomy involved in a procedure or process to see the methodologies in action, and the “gamification” of skills trainers (turning medical training into a game).