December 1, 2022
Lidia Rodriguez-Hupp is a well-known figure in 340B circles. But it’s a decidedly low-tech talent that has sustained her throughout her winding career: her people skills.
Her professional life has taken her from the airline industry, to serving as an aide to three former congressmen on Capitol Hill, to heading investor relations for a startup during the dot-com boom. Since landing in 340B, Rodriguez-Hupp has overseen software implementation, operations, compliance, and customer support. “I’ve done practically everything here, other than legal or finance,” she quips.
With all her diverse experience, The Craneware Group's Chief Customer Officer finds a strong thread connecting it all.
“I’ve always been very customer- and relationship-driven,” she says. “I hesitate to say it as a businesswoman, but I put business second. I believe that relationships build your business. If you don’t have those, a contract is just a piece of paper.”
Today, Rodriguez-Hupp oversees the largest group in the company, with employees based across the U.S. and in the U.K. (The Craneware Group is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland) reporting to her. She has responsibility for the combined support functions, including technical support and implementation; 340B audit and compliance, advocacy and industry relations, and contract pharmacy account management; and revenue integrity account management.
Rodriguez-Hupp joined Sentry in 2004 as director of implementation, just the fifth person hired into the company. She helped implement the company’s first 340B customer and would later be promoted to vice president, with a series of escalating executive leadership roles, including 340B compliance officer.
It was her prompting that led Sentry to create two unique teams: a dedicated audit and compliance team, at a time before HRSA initiated audits; and a non-covered entity account management team, called Contract Pharmacy Partnership Operations, to serve the retail pharmacy partners of customers — a model Rodriguez-Hupp says was unique among 340B third-party vendors.
“We treat contract pharmacies as if they were our customers even though we don’t have signed contracts with any contract pharmacy,” she says. “They work with our covered entity customers, and we work with them to make sure that relationship is successful. For 340B audit and compliance, we wanted to ensure our customers knew we had their back during what could be a very stressful few days.”
Becoming part of The Craneware Group, following the 2021 acquisition of Sentry Data Systems, benefits 340B customers, Rodriguez-Hupp says. In addition to what she refers to as Sentry’s “340B bench strength,” customers now have access to expertise in revenue integrity, charge description master, drug formulary and other topics important to hospitals’ efforts to maximize revenues and ensure their ability to continue to care for their patients
And in a 340B industry where many competitors are now owned by wholesalers, health insurers or pharmacy benefit managers, being part of The Craneware Group means remaining agnostic, while having deeper resources and continuing Sentry’s longstanding reputation for being strong allies of hospitals.
For Rodriguez-Hupp, good customer service remains the bottom line.
“I’ll walk into a hospital,” she says. “I know whose kid is going to college on a volleyball scholarship. I know because those are the conversations I have and the relationships I’ve built, personal relationships.
“To me, business is about people. Obviously, the product must be good, but as long as you genuinely connect with people, you will be successful.”