Together LeeSar and its sister entity, Cooperative Services of Florida (CSF), form a supply chain management organization established in 1998 by LeeMemorial Health System and Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. LeeSar serves as the regional service center, and CSF serves as a buying cooperative for the owners. President and CEO Bob Simpson has been with the organization since 2002.
In addition to product distribution, LeeSar’s services have expanded to include several other businesses all based on their state-of-the-art supply chain management system. A few of these services include the manufacturing of custom surgical packs, nuclear medicine manufacturing, pharmaceutical repackaging, and pharmaceutical compounding. Simpson explains,
“It’s a pretty aggressive organization. We’re really a ‘supply chain think tank.’ That’s what my board tells me. We’re always expecting to be going out to find the next greatest thing we can do to bring cost containment and have the right product at the right place at the right time for the patients.”
When Simpson started in his position, the organization went through a lot of turnover. Simpson took the new leadership team and their spouses out to an island off the coast of Florida for a three-day weekend so they could get to know each other. “We put the laptops away, we put the phones away… and we talked about what we wanted to accomplish, and how that would happen if we could implement and commit to the following set of values:
- To have total honesty within the company
- To treat others as professionals and expect the same back—whether employees, medical staff, or suppliers
- To be able to trust and be trusted by all with whom we work as a company
- To know that as a company we’re having a positive impact on the community
- To uphold a strong professional reputation with the suppliers.”
When talking about the top leadership characteristics of his team, Simpson shared three things any CEO would be proud of:
- They are totally committed to what they do… whatever it takes to get the job done, they do it. They care.
- They always are willing to reach out and share with other professionals and with the community.
- They are fully supportive of their staff—they don’t treat their staff like employees, they treat them each as a very valuable part of the team.
Upon being asked what the organization’s three highest priorities are, Simpson took just a moment to reflect before naming off the same three things he had just listed as top leadership characteristics of his team—being totally committed, willing to reach out and share, and fully supportive of their staff. Acknowledging that these priorities all center around the company’s culture rather than any specific issue or problem, Simpson wisely noted, “Well, culture takes care of the problems.”
While the company culture truly is thriving, like any organization, LeeSar does face significant challenges; Simpson explained,
“Meeting the hospitals’ expectations and maintaining the continued support of the medical staff and leadership. We are constantly doing that. That’s a huge challenge. The second biggest challenge is the relationship with the manufacturers. There’s constantly a pull and tug between the old model of supply chain and the new model, and getting the manufacturers to work with us and the new model can be a huge challenge. The third challenge is finding new ventures that bring revenue into this organization and that gets sent back to the hospitals.”
Despite the challenges, Simpson describes the organization’s greatest strength as “the ability to develop a working relationship with manufacturers that ends with agreements that benefit both organizations.” He went on to share how he hopes the stakeholders would describe LeeSar in twenty words or less: “Committed to making the supply chain cost to the healthcare system improve, while the end result is better patient care.”
Asked to share two or three issues on which the organization has recently been focused, Simpson described the challenge and opportunity of expanding the company and developing professional partnerships with other health systems. He also pointed to one of the challenges he already mentioned,
“Maintaining the support of our mission from the hospital leadership and medical staff. That’s a constant challenge. They always question us—and they always should question us. It’s something that we have to do on a regular basis, go back and restate why we’re here, what we’re doing, and the value we bring to them.”
Simpson listed three results or categories of value that LeeSar considers to be most important: dependability, pricing stability, and meeting the needs of the medical staff. With this kind of significant value offered to their clients, LeeSar and CSF will no doubt continue to have a leading edge in healthcare supply chain management.