Q&A with the New SVP of Client Success at TigerConnect

05.15.19 TigerConnect Healthcare
Q&A with the New SVP of Client Success at TigerConnect

Sarah Shillington shares her perspective on leadership and the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the healthcare industry

As we continue on our mission at TigerConnect to provide healthcare solutions that radically improve the way care is delivered, it is a privilege to meet people who are aligned with our mission.

Sarah Shillington, the SVP of Client Success at TigerConnect and the newest addition to our leadership team, is one such individual. Her passion for making a difference in healthcare is inspiring. She has a unique perspective and the ability to think not only about problems in healthcare, but how they can be solved through technology solutions. Her experience is impressive with more than 25 years in healthcare information technology overseeing client organizations at large-scale, global enterprise companies, most recently leading client services at Leidos Health and prior to that at McKesson.

To give you a glimpse into Sarah’s extensive experience, her perspective on healthcare, and her unique leadership style, here is a brief Q&A:

Q: What drew you into the healthcare industry and what keeps you in it?

A: Honestly, I fell into healthcare by accident.  While researching Ph.D. programs I ran into a good friend who was working for a healthcare IT vendor and she mentioned a part-time job staffing their front desk. I took the job to tide me over during my Ph.D. program search and ended up really liking the company environment. That company was acquired by HBOC a few years later. Within five years after starting that job at the front desk I was the VP of Customer Education at HBOC and eventually at McKesson.

My entire career outside of academia has been in healthcare customer services. I really feel my personal primary directive is to help healthcare organizations solve problems, and most importantly, succeed with the tools and technology that enables them to provide better patient care.

Q: It sounds like you’ve become very passionate about solving challenges in healthcare through technological solutions. Have you had any personal consumer experiences with healthcare that have fueled this drive?

A: I’ve seen the lack of care coordination impact loved ones directly. One of my family members experienced an adverse drug event due to a transcription error. I’ve also watched other family members weave their way through far too much complexity in the healthcare environment.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities in healthcare right now?

A: There have been and continue to be a lot of regulatory changes impacting reimbursements. Couple that with rising costs and it makes running a healthcare organization a complex secondary mission after patient care.

Many of those regulatory changes are striving for a better quality of care and improved care coordination. TigerConnect’s solutions are positioned well to support communication priorities and drive action.

Quality and timeliness of care is another major challenge. Access to care has to be convenient, as evidenced by a decrease in PCP loyalty and availability of these providers to make time for patients. As a result, we are seeing a growing number of retail clinics.

Healthcare organizations have a tremendous job caring for patients. Complex communication networks are necessary to enable care coordination and many organizations are still using outdated approaches that lack efficiency. TigerConnect has proven tools and expertise to help our clients navigate those communication networks and improve efficiency, quality of care, and care outcomes.

Q: What attracted you to TigerConnect?

A: I really wanted to get back to making a meaningful difference in the healthcare industry, working for a company influencing the delivery of better patient care. I was also interested in getting back to a smaller company, where I could bring my expertise and experience and have an impact.

TigerConnect helped me fulfill both these goals – the company is agile, creative, and innovative, but through the use of sophisticated technology infrastructure and processes, is able to deliver the best quality products and services to the client.

We are also making a significant impact on healthcare delivery on a day-to-day basis – optimizing communication within healthcare in ways that are quite literally saving lives.

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Q: Tell me a little about your prior experience in the healthcare industry?

A: In my 19-year career at McKesson I had the opportunity to work in every customer delivery role imaginable. I started out in customer education and then built a startup clinical consulting practice within McKesson. A few years later I was asked to help out with account management in the central region. I quickly recognized that we had a tremendous meaningful use challenge in our customer base, so I stepped up to assist in solving meaningful use on a broader scale, overseeing the program in other regions. I also managed the solution architects who designed complex services and implementation roadmaps to meet customer needs.

More recently I worked at Leidos Health. In my seven years with the company, I had the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the power of services to support our clients’ success with technology. Initially, I led a consulting group supporting large scale EHR Program Managers as well as system selections and optimization. In time, I also oversaw other consulting practices including ICD-10, meaningful use, IT strategy, revenue cycle, analytics, and clinical.

Q: What’s been your initial impression of TigerConnect – what surprised you?

A: I was surprised by the sheer size of the TigerConnect client base. We are serving more than 5,000 clients and many enterprise organizations, including companies like Geisinger and Innovation Care Partners that are transforming care delivery with our solutions.

I was also impressed by the use of data to help our clients gain better value out of our products. Data is being used to pinpoint communication efficiencies, workflow improvements and best practices that are exhibited within our customer base. We also have a team of people whose focus it is to help our clients be more successful with our products.

Q: What excites you most about what we are doing for customers at TigerConnect?

A: I have a unique opportunity to lead our client organization at TigerConnect – leading teams responsible for helping customers onboard and implement our technologies and maximize their success over time.

One area that is particularly exciting to me is the opportunity we have to help healthcare organizations map out an overall communication strategy for their entire system, across all locations and care settings. Many healthcare organizations don’t even know how to get started tackling the complexities of their communication challenges. Our process allows us to identify gaps in communication and organize those into a set of goals and an overall roadmap for a successful communication network strategy.

I am also really excited about the community-driven innovation that is possible with TigerConnect. We have a product that can be leveraged to optimize endless communication workflows within a healthcare system. We collect workflows and the ways organizations use our product to improve communication and solve problems within their health system. Those experiences and workflows are leveraged in our service delivery approach to drive greater value and success for our clients.

Q: What are your team’s top priorities for the coming year?

A: One of our biggest priorities this year is helping existing clients self-identify where they are on the communication maturity continuum and where they want to go. Many of our clients have been with us for several years. For these clients, we often review and reestablish the challenges we can solve with both existing functionalities as well as newer functionality to drive more value for them.

We’ll also be focused on improving the implementation process and ensuring our newest clients are set up to be successful out of the gate.  We are assuring our services approach matches unique variabilities exhibited by each client while also leveraging our best practice methodological approach.

And finally, services and professional services is a big focus for our organization this year. We have an incredible team of professional services experts, client care support members and account executives that have collectively helped map out communications strategies and successfully onboard thousands of healthcare organizations. These services can truly set our clients up for success.

Q: With your background in services, what are your thoughts on the importance of professional services?

A:  Professional services done right helps the customer map their path to successful use of the product and functionality. If you implement the product efficiently, customers get great value, which means greater clinician productivity, more time with patients, improved patient outcomes, and all at lower costs.

What separates good from great is having an experienced team with a great set of methodology and tools to partner and guide the customer. You also need technology and methodology that is flexible enough to tune best practices to meet the unique needs of the customer.

Q: What experiences have shaped your leadership and impacted your career?

A: I think my teaching background has made a huge difference in my leadership style. My years as an educator gave me the ability to teach for different learning styles, while at the same time synthesizing large amounts of information quickly.

I have also had the privilege of having some great seminars and executive coaching over my tenure.  Crucial Conversations (a leadership course and book) taught me the power of listening to understand unique perspectives, yet also gave me the ability to understand where there is aligned thinking. This skill is incredibly powerful in a customer setting, when it’s important to identify resolutions and drive alignment among a large group in order to drive success.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: As a former collegiate athlete – I played college basketball and softball – I love getting outside and moving. I hit the gym as often as I can and I really enjoy nature. Everything from hiking to gardening satiates my love of the outdoors. I’m also a foodie – I love to cook whenever I have time. I also enjoy spending time with my two daughters and my spouse.