What a unified approach to business excellence means for patient support program success

By Bill Smith |

How do you operationalize success when all the right elements are scattered across the enterprise? You build a unified business excellence team.

Executive Q&A

Business Excellence

Business excellence happens at the crossroads of diverse functions, departments, skillsets and experiences. But how do you operationalize success if those elements are scattered across the enterprise? Bill Smith, Senior Vice President of Business Excellence, shares how Lash Group's business excellence team unifies disparate functions to build and grow patient support programs.

Q: How does the business excellence team support Lash Group clients?

Bill Smith: We're a combination of people with different roles and functions who have experiences across all aspects of business growth and development. But whereas other patient support programs may pull in experts on an ad-hoc basis, our team brings those individuals together under one business unit to support continuous improvement. Typically, that starts with understanding our clients' needs and then digging down to reveal opportunities for business excellence. We evaluate areas where we can maintain existing processes, and we also suggest new strategies that can make a meaningful impact.

Q: What's the thinking behind the team structure?

BS: We were very thoughtful about how we assembled our team—and we landed on a three-part framework of implementation, customer experience and shared services. We've always had these functions in the organization, but they were traditionally in different pockets. Unifying them helps us deliver across-the-board expertise from a more integrated structure.
On the implementation front, we're focused on process excellence to launch or transition programs appropriately from the start. Our customer experience experts are committed to program health—quality excellence, training, compliance and opportunities for ongoing process improvements. And finally, shared services connects the dots throughout the program lifecycle, covering everything from data intake to contracting.

Q: What goes into your launch approach for a new patient support program?

BS: We're shifting to a more intentional approach of pairing subject matter expertise with the project management discipline for a seamless launch experience. Both areas are critical. By combining them, we create launches that not only meet timing and budget expectations, but also inform optimized and technology-driven patient services. We've always had those capabilities, but we would pull different threads from different fabrics to make the most of them. With a centralized Implementations unit, we can align those strengths for a robust, consistent launch approach.

Q: What changes do you see on the horizon in light of COVID-19?

BS: This year, we have to think and plan differently. We're leveraging process excellence methodologies so we can learn and adapt as we all adjust to this new environment. One thing that is certain is we need to effectively support a larger remote workforce—from clearly defining productivity goals to staffing counts and nuanced project management.
We also had to reimagine training and development to work optimally in a virtual environment. We are doing this at the same time that we are pulling in dispersed pockets of training across the organization into a standardized, centralized training team, which is something we're all excited about.

Q: How has your experience helped shape these priorities for the business excellence team?

BS: I began my career in operations and managing programs, so being in a transformation role—where I can help pull change through every aspect of our clients' business—has always seemed like a natural fit for me. And we're unique in that our team plugs into so many different areas of the business ecosystem; we work with our IT teams, new business partners, operations, product team, client analytics and others. That structure lends itself to strong alignment and collaboration with other Lash Group business units and is what helps us set and stick to our strategic priorities.

Q: How do you help your team stay motivated, day in and day out?

BS: It begins with trust. I aim to be a transparent leader and not only communicate where I'd like to see us go, but also provide team members with the tools, support and latitude to get there. It's so rewarding when folks feel like they're making a difference and confidently propose and run with changes. I'm also big on making sure we reassess our priorities, because they do change from time to time, based on business needs and current events.

We always want to ask ourselves: Are we doing the right work at the right time? Because if we're not sure, that's a sign that we need to pause and recalibrate our purpose. Clients—and patients—deserve that above all else.

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About the Author

Bill Smith

Senior Vice President, Product Management & Analytics
Lash Group

In his role as the SVP of Product Management & Analytics for Lash Group, Bill Smith is responsible for executing the Lash Group strategy for Data Analytics and Product Innovation, to ensure the successful delivery of value-driven products created to serve the needs of our clients.

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