Vendor and provider interactions are forever changed

Insights from recent KPMG healthcare provider research

By Alex Tolmasoff, Director, KPMG Sales Transformation and HCLS Lead

Have you found yourself wondering how you need to adjust your sales strategy to meet evolving customer expectations? 

Recent KPMG research indicates that providers do not expect to see vendors on site, at similar levels to pre-COVID-19, any time soon; consequently, vendors need to adjust their methods of communicating to meet the new desires of providers:1

  • As of Q3 2022, < 50% of providers expect vendor access to return to normal (e.g., at pre-COVID levels)
  • Providers report receiving more than 50% of vendor contact than desired, across all communication channels (email, direct mail, phone calls)

The COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented effect on patients and healthcare providers; to understand the impact and aftereffects on healthcare organizations and how the front office (particularly the sales organization) must retool itself for this “new normal”, KPMG surveyed nearly 100 providers, including surgeons, primary care physicians, and hospital C-suite leaders in mid-2022. The survey set out to gauge provider perspectives in three key areas:

In a series of blogs exploring the survey findings, I continue here by concentrating on the third point above, specifically:

  • How providers believe on-site vendor access will look very different in a COVID world
  • How methods of provider / vendor interactions are changing during and post-pandemic
  • How vendors need to change to meet provider expectations 
  • How vendors can help providers attract more patients – and become high value partners in the process

On-site vendor access

Overall, providers do not expect a return to normal vendor on-site presence (>90% of pre-pandemic levels) for quite a while - until the second half of 2023.

When do you anticipate allowing vendors to visit on-site to return "normal" levels (e.g. pre-2020)


And it changes by site of care - while surgeons expect vendors to return in 2022, the majority of hospitals (51%) and physician offices (67%) expect a return to pre-pandemic levels by Q4 2022.

When do you anticipate allowing vendors to visit on-site to return "normal" levels (e.g. pre-2020)

Strikingly, 5% of hospitals and 10% of physician offices believe that on-site vendor access will never return to normal. Clearly, there is a ‘new normal’ and a set of changed expectations for how vendors should interact with providers and their sites of care.

Provider / vendor interactions

Post-COVID, providers anticipate seeing fewer vendors (~ 15% less) compared to pre-pandemic levels, with in-person visits expected to fall by 20%. As would maybe seem natural, due to the rise of online interactions throughout the past couple of years, providers expect a significant increase (more than double) in digital vendor interactions (e.g. Zoom / Teams).

Vendor Engagement/Interactions

Notably, most customers anticipated using these virtual formats more than 2x their pre-pandemic levels; this implies a significantly different engagement model with customers which will impact sales coverage, talent requirements, and productivity expectations.

Leading organizations have high expectations of their vendors

Leading organizations are taking a more vendor-friendly approach, with more optimistic expectations of a rapid return to normal.

When do you anticipate allowing vendors to visit on-site to return "normal" levels (e.g. pre-2020)


They still, however, expect more from their vendors who are sending far more direct mail (>800%), making significantly more telephone calls (~400%), and carrying out more vendor visits (>55%) than desired. Both leading and laggard organizations received more than four times the amount of emails than their preferred frequency of contact via this method.

Vendors need to do more to help providers attract more patients

Only ~7% of providers reported getting support from vendors to attract patients back to their site of care. Of those that do, the activities that providers appreciate the most from their vendors are providing reliable clinical data (38%), educating the patient and referral community (30%), and helping to advertise new offerings (19%), but less than 40% of vendors are offering these services. Notably, a large minority (21%) are not aware of any ways vendors are helping them attract more patients.

What are vendors doing to help you attract more patients?


The ways that vendors and providers interact have changed forever. Providers’ time is more precious than ever, and competition for their attention is fierce. But there are leading practices, and understanding these new practices will be critical to developing the right front-office strategies for effective sales, marketing, and service model changes.

For sales leaders in particular, you should consider the following to help mitigate the impacts of recent years:

  • Revisit your customer segments – some providers (e.g. “leaders”) have fared well during COVID, while others have not. Identify your leading or growth customers through voice of the customer (VOC) research, procedure volume trends, and revenue growth data. These customers are likely to provide vendors access earlier and more often – and are growing sustainably above market. Align your best sales resources to these higher growth customers. Create lower cost sales models and marketing-driven-demand models, supported by technology for lower growth segments.
  • Retool value props, messaging, and marketing approaches – competition will be fierce to see high growth customers. Refresh your marketing messaging, selling messages and collateral. Invest in technology that unifies sales, marketing, and customer insights to ensure your sellers are more nimble that the competition. Refresh key account programs to focus on economic value, contracting, and data insights.
  • Conduct VOC research – while procedure and revenue data are helpful, they do not fully outline specific sites of care, surgeon or provider types, rural vs. urban, patient types, and other factors that affect how a customer’s journey has changed. Conduct fresh research to fully understand how different customers’ preferences, process, and values have changed; use the findings to determine your marketing approach and sales engagement model upgrades, such as new jobs, updated quotas, refreshed compensation, and upgraded commercial operations.
  • Embrace remote / hybrid selling – customers have changed forever, especially for high performing provider organizations; hybrid selling (remote and in person) is here to stay – but be careful: avoid one-size-fits-all models. Not all customers want or need hybrid sales – consider marketing-led or inside sales models that were once improbable but now preferred. Experiment and consider new teams and talent, paired inside/outside models, and tech-enabled ecommerce and digital marketing approaches.


  1. Source: KPMG Pulse Survey, Summer 2022

KPMG can help you improve the ROI on your sales investments – enabling you to effectively manage winning sales strategies, processes, and talent with connected insights

KPMG can help you improve the ROI on your sales investments – enabling you to effectively manage winning sales strategies, processes, and talent with connected insights

Contact us

To learn more about how KPMG can help you navigate these uncertain times, get in touch.

Walt Becker

Walt Becker

Principal, Customer Advisory, Sales Transformation, KPMG US

+1 267-256-7000
Alex Tolmasoff

Alex Tolmasoff

Director Advisory, C&O Commercial, KPMG US

+1 415-963-5100