4 reasons why insoles producers are spending too much time on orders

This is the second in a two part series on today's insole industry.

The fulfillment of custom medical devices (ie. insole/orthotic) is complicated and labor intensive. Even with the latest technology, producers spend exorbitant amounts of time and money providing a single pair of orthotics. We’ve spent the last two years with leading producers and learned about their processes and bottle necks. These are the 4 reasons why producers are being held back.

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I. Order management

Did you know that several of GROM’s partnering custom insole producers (“laboratories”) complete between 200 & 600 insole orders per day. As you’ve learned from our previous post clinicians order information through 2-5 platforms (ie. snail mail, email, dropbox, calls and whatsapp) and at 2-4 moments in time. While some laboratories have transitioned into a basic prescription managers, many still rely on excel and other manual approaches. While labs have eventually implement second best processes to their orders, lacking integration and automation makes it error prone.

II. Communications

The aforementioned 2-5 platforms are used to place orders, but also retroactively discuss them. There is a myriad of reasons why clinicians make inquiries with different levels of urgency. In case of urgent issues, clinicians will generally resort to whatsapp and email for less time sensitive inquiries. Obviously, these platforms were not built for managing and prioritizing order inquiries. So far, we’ve only discussed inquiries by doctors, but in 5% of cases laboratories will also have questions for clinicians. Which means that they wrestle with the same challenges. The question is obvious, how to keep track of all this data efficiently?

III. Order adjustments

A big chunk of communications between and inside clinics and laboratories revolves around order adjustments. This leads to complication as a result of how orders are stored. More often than not, laboratories rely on excel sheets or folders full of prescription form images to store data. Firstly, when manually changing these orders error rates increase. Secondly, confusion can arise due to multiple (outdated) order versions floating between clinicians and laboratories.

IV. Status updates

Orders go through several stages until they land on the clinics’ doormat. Order submission, production, delivery, and many more. When everything goes as planned, clinicians know to expect their insoles in about XX days. What if a file is corrupted, the wrong customization was added, or customs is holding your package. Well, for a clinician this is a complete black box unless depending on how communicative their laboratory is. Clinicians spend precious energy worrying about fulfillment statuses. The laboratory has to invest time to and energy reinsuring and informing their clinicians.

Change is always a painful (financially & procedural) process for incumbent players. As a producer, you are either not used to digitization or have invested heavily in - increasingly outdated - websites, infrastructure and scanning technology. “Aren’t they a cocky bunch...”, might be the first thing that crosses you mind “... we have great software!”. We’d argue that companies invest most in their core business, for laboratories this is producing insoles. They don’t have the time and resources to integrate the latest technology into their platforms. And, let's be honest would you want to be reminded on a daily basis that your expensive platform is getting more outdated by the day?

Let's take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Laboratories can receive up to 600 insole orders per day. The information required to complete these orders is often sent in 2-4 parts and via 2-5 different platforms (ie. snail mail, email, dropbox, calls and whatsapp). Approximately 5% of these orders have inquiries. In other words, a producer is required to manage up to 12,000 orders with 600 inquiries monthly across 5 platforms. Confused already? Our producers were, until GROM.

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