Data Management is the third rail of Distribution in Durable Medical Equipment. You can literally get fried if you make a mistake either way. The decision has to be made whether you are going to host your own data feeds, or you are going to hire a company to handle that aspect of the business for you. I am going to focus on the outsourced solutions for this post. Choosing a Provider is often challenging due to the complexity of the topic and the labor that comes with it.
Topics in Data Management
- How vast is your catalog offering?
- Is the data clean or dirty?
- Can catalogs not existing be added, and what does the process look like?
- Can I segment the data feeds?
- How do I segment the data feeds?
- Can the feeds be integrated into my ERP, CRM, or other systems?
With regards to catalog providers, they come in two flavors: Up & Comers and Professional Catalog Houses. With a professional provider it’s like a marriage, with an Up & Comer it’s like a dating relationship. The professional houses are going to charge a healthy premium for their services and you are likely going to be married to their system for a very long time due to the vastness of their data offering. Up & Comers are going to have a more limited offering, likely more specialized, but are a lot more flexible as to what they cost and what they are able to do. I bring this up because their advantages to both models. The question becomes do you want content depth and a long term option or specialization with flexibility?
As to the value of Providers they handle the manufacturer data relationships for you, which can be time consuming and make sure the data is managed the way you like it. They are taking the heavy lifting off your plate. The search for all the equipment manufacturers within product sets is a time burner as well along with the contact and establishment of a feed with your chosen manufacturers. The providers are taking that burden off you as well. The providers typically offer content management systems which line up with your systems which make authorship and site view creation so much easier to deal with.
Regardless of what you choose the most important things are you have clean data, content management options, and you have integration options. Either way you decide to go, the vendor you choose is going to be the life blood of your organization since they offer the catalogs that you sell from which puts you at their mercy. The reality is you can get feeds from manufacturers and do it yourself, but it’s a long laborious situation that would be better served with a staff as opposed to a few people running a small company, and this is why providers exist.