Based in Warwick, Rhode Island, Davol is the market leader in providing solutions in soft tissue reconstruction. Its products include medical devices for hernia repair, specialized surgical procedures, fixation, and biologic implants. The company’s BioSurgery franchise delivers a growing line of enhanced sealants and hemostatic products that complement surgical techniques across thoracic, cardiovascular, and other surgical specialties.
Surgeons around the world use Davol’s advanced products to treat their patients and enhance their quality of life. Getting these products into hospitals and – ultimately – into surgeons’ hands is a two-fold process. Davol’s territory managers sell directly to hospitals, but the people who approve the purchase orders aren’t the actual end-users. Those would be the surgeons who work in the hospitals.
That’s where Davol’s surgical education (surg-ed) division comes in. Spreading the word about Davol’s products isn’t just good business practice: It’s essential to the company’s operations. The surg-ed division is entirely dedicated to creating and delivering a huge array of conferences, expos, demos, symposia, and other events where surgeons learn all about Davol’s products and how to use them in the operating room.
“In addition to selling our products directly to hospitals, our territory managers also send about 2,000 surgeons a year to our training events,” explains Jennifer Preservati, Davol’s senior marketing coordinator. “Each month, we do up to 30 unique events.” Davol pays all expenses for the surgeons who attend the events, so that involves costs for everything from surgeons’ airfare, hotel, and car services to their food and beverages.
As you might imagine, it’s important to track those expenses from an accounting standpoint. In 2014, the U.S. federal government made a change to its Sunshine Act that required public reporting of payments to physicians and teaching hospitals from pharmaceutical and medical device companies like Davol. In order to comply with the changes to the Sunshine Act, Davol must meticulously track all of its surg-ed spending on attendees. This alone is a Herculean task. “It’s a lot like trying to put together a big puzzle,” Preservati comments. “It’s essential for us to have a system in place that helps us monitor every single expenditure for each event, right down to how much was spent on breakfast, lunch, or dinner for a particular surgeon.”
Then there are the myriad tasks associated with creating, publicizing, and delivering those events. For example, surgeons need to be able to register for and confirm their attendance at Davol’s surg-ed training. The company’s territory managers must have accurate databases of hospitals and surgeons so they can reach the right people to invite to these events in the first place. There also has to be a way to manage all of the historical data associated with past marketing communications efforts as well as Davol’s past training events.
"From a marcomm perspective, it’s all about our return on investment, or ROI"
Additionally, the company’s marketing communications department wants to monitor sales trends across hospitals to assess the impact of its various marketing campaigns. According to Erica Vigneau, Davol’s associate marketing communications manager, “From a marcomm perspective, it’s all about our return on investment, or ROI. So whenever it’s possible, we want to see if our marketing efforts are having a positive effect on sales. It’s vital for marcomm to know how much a training event costs, analyze the leads generated at those events, look at sales at different hospitals, and try to make a connection. The goal is to justify whether it makes sense to spend the same amount of money putting on the same surg-ed event the following year.”
Admittedly, this is a slightly inexact science, because Davol’s customers are hospitals, each of which employs many different surgeons who may be affiliated with more than one hospital. This means sales have to be tracked on a hospital level, not on a surgeon level. In a perfect world, Davol would be able to tie every single product sale right back to a specific surg-ed event. The reality is that there’s more of an indirect correlation between the two. But it’s still enough to give Vigneau’s department the ability to gauge the success of Davol’s marcomm efforts.
The common currency traded between Davol’s surg-ed and marcomm departments is information – and there’s a staggering amount of it. As ten24 president David Crouch says, “Surg-ed and marcomm at Davol are working with a common dataset. Both departments are pulling from the same data, but they each need separate portals because they use the data differently.”
Crouch and the rest of the ten24 team already had a solid working relationship with Davol that went back to shortly after ten24 was founded. By 2014, Davol was looking to collaborate with ten24 in a different way. “The situation with Davol wasn’t an application of Slatwall for business-to-consumer ecommerce,” Crouch explains. “Rather, this was a business-to-business use of the platform.” Specifically, Davol wanted to harness Slatwall’s power and ten24’s expertise to increase its reporting efficiencies and achieve marketing automation.
Just as Davol takes a two-pronged approach to building its business through both direct hospital sales and surg-ed events, ten24 took a two-part approach to the solution it created for Davol. In the surg-ed department, ten24 delivered an automated system that cuts down on manual data entry, streamlines processes for Preservati and her team, and automates registration for training events. For instance, when an entry for a new surgeon is made into Davol’s system, it’s tied directly to that surgeon’s National Provider Identification (NPI) number. It’s much like a fingerprint, in the sense that each NPI is unique to the surgeon who holds it; it’s impossible for two different surgeons to have the exact same NPI.
ten24 established a link between Davol’s system and the NPI registry, which has an open API. Using this interface, Davol can enter NPIs into its own system and will immediately receive an error message if it attempts to input an incorrect NPI or tries to tie an existing NPI to the wrong surgeon. “With NPIs, we’re talking 13-digit numbers,” says Preservati. “That’s a lot of data entry. Any improvement with this task saves time and reduces human error.”
In the area of streamlining processes, ten24 made certain that the surg-ed group had a complete, A to Z tracking and reporting capability for budgeting and expenses. The group has the second-largest budget in Davol, and as Preservati points out, managing it can get “pretty intense.” Before ten24, when Davol was using its old system, Preservati and her team often had to wait until the end of the month or at least several days before they could assemble and generate many of the reports they needed. To say that the process was slow and painful was an understatement.
The ten24 team made that a thing of the past. It ensured that Davol’s surg-ed personnel could access data and produce customized, meaningful reports any time they wanted to. The new system, for example, takes all of Davol’s American Express bills, parses out every single expense on those bills, and ties them directly to the surgeons who attend the department’s events. Preservati and her team can see those expenses and ensure that they’re categorized correctly and assigned to the proper surgeons and cost centers. This, in turn, makes it much easier to comply with the 2014 reporting requirements of the Sunshine Act.
"This has been huge for our territory managers,"
Preservati especially appreciates the automation that ten24 has brought to Davol’s surg-ed registration process. “This has been huge for our territory managers,” she says. “They can go into the system and enter the details about a surgeon they’d like to send to one of our programs. The system will automatically link to that surgeon’s entry in our database if he or she has already attended one of our events. So there’s no need to re-enter contact information. If the surgeon is a first-time attendee, the system will automatically create a new entry in the database.”
At that point, the coordinator of the Davol event receives an email about the registration. If the surgeon’s registration is approved, one of Preservati’s colleagues simply goes into the system and clicks on a button which will generate an automatic email to the registrant. That email contains a confirmation of the surgeon’s registration as well as further information on next steps for arranging details such as the attendee’s travel, accommodation, car service, and meals. There’s even a link in the email that the surgeon can click on for the complete agenda for the event he or she will be attending. Another link enables the registered surgeon to complete a confirmation page that will be sent back to Davol. As the event date draws closer, registered attendees will automatically receive reminder emails about their upcoming events as well as emails about cancellation deadlines.
All of these improvements, Preservati explains, have been transformative for surg-ed. “With ten24’s solutions, we’ve improved our time management,” she says. “We have so much more efficiency and much less redundancy.”
"the platform that ten24 built for me has taken the old system to the next level"
But that’s only half the picture. ten24 also took the powerful database that it created for Davol’s surg-ed department and built on top of it a platform that Vigneau’s group could use to create impactful and automated marcomm campaigns. It will probably come as no surprise that the new system was well received. “Before, with the old system, I had generic email capability,” Vigneau says. “I could send emails, and I could see basic things like the open rates and the unsubscribes. But the platform that ten24 built for me has taken the old system to the next level.”
Now, for instance, Vigneau and her team can see every single email they’ve ever sent to customers going all the way back to 2012. They can search those emails by specific recipient, and they can see which messages recipients have opened and whether they clicked on anything in the messages themselves. “It’s a pretty powerful tool,” she notes.
Vigneau is especially impressed with the marketing automation solutions that the ten24 team delivered. “One of the things I really wanted with the new system was the capability to send one email but make it look like it’s coming from a bunch of our different reps at once,” she explains. When Davol gets meeting leads from one of its surg-ed events, for example, it might yield as many as 300 leads or more. Following up on those leads is a critical task. “I don’t really like to send those follow-ups from a generic email address,” Vigneau continues. “It’s much more personal when it comes from a rep who is in that lead’s territory.”
ten24 set up Vigneau’s new system so that all she has to do is plug the rep’s identification number next to a lead. When she sends an email, she simply selects a “send as a rep” option; the system will send it and make the email look as if it came personally from the rep whose number was used. The function has already made a dramatic impact on the marcomm department. “Now, I can send 200 emails at once with the click of a button, instead of having to send 200 separate emails manually,” Vigneau says.
"I don’t have to keep typing in the same information over and over"
Vigneau adds that another seemingly small enhancement with the new system has resulted in a big payoff. “Before, with the old system, all of the emails that we used to send on behalf of our territory managers required a lot of manual data entry,” she notes. “We had to physically key in reps’ names and their email addresses at the beginning of the messages. In the body of the emails we then had to enter all of the recipients’ names and their email addresses.” With the new system from ten24, Vigneau just clicks on a button that automatically populates the emails with all of this information. The system even automatically matches the correct rep with all of the leads in his or her territory, along with those leads’ names and email addresses. “This helps me all the time, because I don’t have to keep typing in the same information over and over,” she says.
But the benefits don’t stop there. In addition to generating ROI reports on demand, Vigneau and her colleagues can use the system to track sales on a hospital level and flag specific products that a particular email campaign relates to. And because the historical data of all of Davol’s past marketing campaigns is now at their fingertips, they can compare the effectiveness of different campaigns.
Then there’s the access that Vigneau has to all of the financial data from each surg-ed training event. She’s able to calculate exactly how much any given expo or conference costs; she then tracks that total expense against the follow-up results of the leads that the event produced. “Our new system is allowing us to see and gain exposure to things we never had before,” Vigneau says. “It helps us make better business decisions, and it improves the way we track and report on marketing.”
"They’re (Ten24) constantly coming to us with ideas that help us get more out of our new system."
Both women also agree that ten24 is more of a valued business partner, as opposed to a vendor. “They’re almost like an extension of our marketing department,” Vigneau observes. “They’re constantly coming to us with ideas that help us get more out of our new system.”
Preservati echoes that sentiment, adding, “Davol and ten24 have built such a great relationship. We work together on a daily basis. They’re a terrific group of people, and I’m happy to be part of their team.”