In the seventh of our series on healthcare industry professionals, Duncan Mills, Sales Manager for Telehealth Solutions Ltd, talks to On Target about his working life.
What is the chief product line that you sell? Who are your customers?
We have two main products: the Surgery Pod and the Home Pod. The Surgery Pod goes into a GP surgery or other health area (such as a pharmacy). It enables patients to carry out basic health checks for themselves: blood pressure, weight, alcohol consumption, personal anxiety questionnaires – all the common questions that doctors and nurses usually have to go through when seeing a patient. It can be kept in a separate room or in the reception area. The Surgery Pod is purchased mostly by GP surgeries, although we’re also gaining increased traction with the PCTs.
The Home Pod follows the same principle; it can be used at home to monitor long-term conditions. For example, our systems going out in Scotland enable patients with COPD to carry out day-to-day tests at home. If the tests show the patient is getting worse or better, they are set to tell the doctor, nurse or carer to take action. This saves the patient having to go to the GP surgery or hospital to be monitored. The Home Pod is purchased by councils, GP surgeries, private healthcare providers and care homes.
What happens in your typical working day?
Each week is different. This week is office-based, following up demos, contracts and e-mails. Next week I have a lot of demos around the country. I demonstrate equipment to people, show them how to use it and how it can benefit them. Our product is not designed as an off-the-shelf item; you can change it to fit the problem. For example, where the Home Pod is used with COPD patients in Scotland, the product is adapted to fit that illness. Customers can actually see the benefits; rather than be told
what they want, they can have
what they want. Not many products out there offer that kind of flexibility.
We’re selling both a product and a service. There’s a service agreement, and customer support is ongoing. Using account managers, we install the product, show the staff how to use it, and follow up with a fortnightly call or e-mail to see how it’s going. After the system has been installed we can move it, change the configuration, set up a new language or questionnaire. All the way down the line, we can change the product to meet the customer’s requirements.
Following the installation, I speak to clinical staff and patient user groups about using the system. Patient user groups help us to improve the user interface of the system, and come back on details that we might overlook. They represent the people we’re trying to help.
About 70% of my working life is spent travelling, selling and dealing with customers. That’s the part I enjoy most, and the customers pick up on that. We work hard to develop customer relationships, rather than having a “What number are you?” kind of attitude. It’s quite labour-intensive, but you get much better results.
How do you see your market evolving in the future?
The benefit of our clients telling us what they want is that one client leads on to another. Our marketplace is getting much bigger. We’re looking to expand into the area of sports healthcare, helping people to stay healthy through exercise and weight control – a proactive healthcare strategy, rather than a reactive one.