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Growing a Telepharmacy Service: Q&A With Valerie Iwinski

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valerieValerie Iwinski is a business and healthcare industry veteran who was recently named Cureatr's senior vice president of clinical services & telehealth. In this position, she is responsible for building, scaling, and ensuring the highest level of customer service for Cureatr’s newly founded telehealth clinical services team. Iwinski brings more than 30 years of premium brand customer service, operations, management, and leadership experience with a proven track record of driving operational and clinical excellence. She is passionate about attracting and retaining top talent, building collaborative/cohesive teams, and establishing an environment that makes a difference for patients, providers, and our partners. She previously held leadership positions at Express Scripts, Avella Specialty Pharmacy, Medavail Technology, Ciox Health, One Roof Energy and American Express.

Q: Can you tell us more about your background?

Valerie Iwinski: I have been in the business world for 30-plus years. I've had the opportunity to work for large- and small-scale companies. What I've been known for throughout my career is improving the customer experience and building a great culture that attracts and retains world class talent.

I've worked for some great brands. I was with American Express for 22 years in five different divisions. I then went to Express Scripts where I ran pharmacies and call centers. I'm not a pharmacist by trade, so I worked to take all my different accomplishments in other companies and carry that forward to support my new roles.

From there, I spent some time working in the residential solar industry. Like most operations and customer service areas, success here was measured by the speed and efficiency of customer service processes. While there, I missed the feeling of making a difference in peoples’ lives. In healthcare, there is so much opportunity to do so, which was a particular draw with Cureatr.

After I left residential solar, I had an opportunity to go back to pharmacy. I worked for Avella Specialty Pharmacy. There, I had an opportunity to help drive patient outcomes and learn more about the specialty pharmacy business. It's definitely a different area of pharmacy because of the complex disease states you encounter.

I then had an opportunity to work for a company that's in some ways like Cureatr. It was a technology company that built and deployed pharmacy kiosks. These kiosks are placed in different healthcare provider facilities, such as in the emergency room or doctor's office. They allow patients to pick up their medications as they exit the facilities. There are a lot of people who never make it to a drugstore to fill a prescription because it's another stop. Use of the kiosks was another way, through technology, to drive better outcomes for patients by empowering them to pick up their medications as soon as possible.

Joining this company gave me a chance to work in and implement retail pharmacies to support the kiosks we were deploying. We implemented in the Phoenix and Tucson (Ariz.) areas. I had an opportunity to fill not only the operations and customer service role but also a business development role, selling and deploying some of the first kiosks in the Phoenix area.

Q: Can you tell us what has contributed to your success?

VI: I possess a strong customer service background. I'm very passionate about bringing in the right talent so you can build a collaborative and cohesive team. By doing that, you drive world-class service. I wholeheartedly believe in establishing an environment where people feel valued. What makes each individual tick is different. A lot of my expertise is digging in, really listening, and making sure people feel valued and understood.

I believe people leave leaders, not companies. That's why it's so important to bring in the right leadership and culture so that people feel engaged and connected.

Q: What attracted you to Cureatr?

VI: I thoroughly enjoy the healthcare environment. The overall vision and mission that Richard (Resnick, Cureatr CEO) and the team have for our business is outstanding. I have a 96-year-old mother who we almost lost twice to a medication reaction after she was hospitalized. The whole opportunity to help people, make sure they are on the right medications following their release from the hospital visit, and make sure they will have healthier outcomes to keep them out of the hospital in the future really hits home for me.

Another thing I really like about Cureatr is the fact that the technology we bring together gives us the ability to effectively drive outcomes. We have data other people don't have access to. You can truly achieve that 360° view of a patient’s medications through our Meds 360° platform. We have also built internal technologies to help us scale our new operations and clinical services capability.

If you think about it, we essentially serve as a medication management clinic. How do we help drive tremendous outcomes through our medication management clinic? By capitalizing on data, superior technology, and world class talent.

Q: What do you think sets Cureatr apart from other medication management companies?

VI: Our differentiation points are that we can recruit clinical pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from throughout the country, not just from a particular area of the country. We will build a world-class team who will deliver a seamless and impactful experience for our patients while also making a difference for providers and payers.

Cureatr is very well-positioned. As we are out selling the technology aspect of the business, most of our customers saw that what we were offering had such great value, they wanted to look at how to implement our solutions as fast as possible.

What we're doing from a clinical services perspective is meeting the needs of our clients and providing the clinical resources for them. In essence, they are outsourcing the capabilities we would normally bring to them through our technology. We will be a technology solution as well as a servicing solution going forward.

There's such a pent-up demand for our services. At this point, especially with COVID-19, there have been some shifts in priorities. As we continue to see the tides turn with the pandemic, we'll have a tremendous opportunity to bring forward what we've been developing and getting ready for the marketplace. We're expecting rapid acceleration in the near future.

Another differentiator for us is that the clinicians we have in our clinical services organization are ones with at least three years of experience in an ambulatory environment. It's an expertise that we probably could not have brought aboard if we weren't in the virtual telehealth environment. That will continue to help drive a lot of what we are focused on delivering and achieving.

When powered by our Cureatr Meds 360° technology along with this newly created internal technologies and processes, this clinical team is superior in the marketplace. Those capabilities plus our world-class clinical staff will really differentiate us in the marketplace.

The key is that we're learning a lot as we've developed this new service. Through constant feedback and looking for different ways to improve, we are striving to provide that seamless experience for the client hiring us. The key for us going forward is to continue listening to client feedback and then following through on what we're trying to accomplish, which is delivering exceptional outcomes for patients, providers, and payers. Ultimately improving the patient’s quality of life.

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