When people talk about technology companies, they are usually referring to Silicon Valley startups or NASDAQ-listed corporations. However, the line between technology companies and the rest of the economy is increasingly blurry. In many ways, every company is now a tech company.
That’s certainly true at Enclara Pharmacia. Enclara, as well as its predecessor companies, has always had a strong tech focus. The company has developed powerful tools like the E3 Mobile app and the Enclarity reporting platform. The next step? Integrating those tools into a suite of solutions to better meet the unique needs of each hospice.
Customers are increasingly “digital first,” meaning they look to technology for solutions before ever picking up the phone or sending an email. That’s where Laura Lewandowski comes in. As Vice President of Digital Product Management, she leads a newly formed digital team. The team is responsible for defining the customer experience for Enclara’s digital tools.
“Enclara’s value proposition has grown to include our ability to offer a seamless medication management experience to our customers through technology. We realized we needed someone managing those tools who’s responsible for the overall customer experience,” Lewandowski said. “We define the scope of the digital team as every digital interaction, regardless of the platform.”
Enclara is proud to have clinicians in leadership positions throughout the organization. However, they went outside the pharma world to find Lewandowski. She spent the last several years leading digital transformation at an industrial supply company. She says the two worlds aren’t as different as you might think. No matter the industry, digital interactions go hand in hand with great customer service.
After joining Enclara last April, Lewandowski spent her first few months just listening and learning. What she found was a staff of highly qualified professionals committed to both Enclara’s clients and their patients. They just weren’t always working as one. The missing ingredient? Modern product management.
For the better part of a century, product management was a function split between marketing and engineering. In some cases, engineering would decide what to build and then tell marketing to sell it, regardless of how marketable the product actually was. In others, marketing would provide product specifications without enough thought to how feasible it would be to build.
This dynamic was behind some of the biggest product flops in history, particularly in the tech industry. It’s no surprise, then, that tech is where two concepts came together to solve the problem. Those concepts are agile project management and the customer experience, or Cx.
Put simply, Agile is a process of continuous improvement over following a rigid plan. Cx is the concept of continuous interaction with the customer. That means engaging the customer at every stage, rather than just doing market research and post-sale surveys. The final piece of the puzzle is having product management as a standalone department reporting directly to senior leadership.
“It’s a lot of user empathy. That’s what I do all day,” Lewandowski said. “Imagine you’re a nurse. Do you want a tool that makes it easy to order meds by mail? Sure. But wouldn’t it be even better if it helped you manage your local pharmacy orders too? We have some nice features for local pharmacy orders like e-prescription requests and the Neighborhood Solutions pharmacy finder, but can we offer more? That’s one area we’re exploring with E3. We look at this as a suite of solutions rather than just a tool.”
Lewandowski is developing ways to better advise clients on how they should use Enclara technology and which pieces of technology might work for their particular business or workflow. Training clients on how to use that technology is important, but she envisions a time when it will be unnecessary.
“My philosophy regarding user experience is that the application should be so easy to use that people can pick it up and immediately know how to use it without ever having used it before,” Lewandowski said. “I just think we shouldn’t have to go to clients and train. My ideal is to be able to watch people use the tools, see where they stumble or ask questions, then make that step more intuitive.”
One of the first things Lewandowski did when she formed Enclara’s new digital team in July was institute Agile project management practices. They used to follow a detailed project roadmap that limited flexibility. Now, they can respond to changing business needs in two weeks rather than two years.
One of her big priorities right now is updating Enclara’s desktop portal to provide a seamless user experience with the mobile app. Another is to ensure consistent capabilities between the two and identify more opportunities for improvement.
Long term, Enclara’s digital team is committed to fully realizing a Cx model in which collaboration with the end users happens at every stage of development. That may include in-person “working” focus groups in which users test early versions of new features. It could also mean finding ways to solicit feedback. The best time to ask users about an experience is right when they have it.
“It doesn’t matter what you think the customer wants or what you want them to want,” Lewandowski said. “What matters is that you are meeting their actual day to day needs. What matters is that the products you develop lead to measurable engagement, satisfaction and growth.”