The Silicon Review
“Whether your pharmacy operation needs guidance through any specialty, infusion, or mail-order verticals, Sphinx offers clinical expertise, white-glove support, and customized solutions across the nation to get you there.”
Sphinx Strategies is a consulting group focusing on developing and maintaining highly-integrated and collaborative specialty pharmacy operations. Sphinx is focused on specialty pharmacy accreditation preparation, developmental investments, operational excellence, and data solutions. The firm targets the effectiveness and speediness of its approach by combining efforts in accreditations, operational excellence, and data analytics in each phase of its projects for clients to achieve and surpass double and triple-digit ROI’s per engagement. The Sphinx portfolio of clients ranges from independent pharmacies to large IDN’s, ACO’s, and publicly traded pharmacies and insurers.
To highlight and further understand what Sphinx Strategies stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with Vic Simianu, the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Below is an excerpt.
Head to Head with Vic Simianu, CEO
Q. What inspired you to establish Sphinx Strategies? And how did the company continue to adapt over the years?
Entrepreneurship is in my blood. I helped my father launch his own company when I was 16, which started a trend of launching various startups before I went to graduate school at age 21. I believe there is an entrepreneur in everyone, and I wanted to build a company that fostered entrepreneurship internally. In due course, I created one in the form of Sphinx Strategies.
Although Sphinx as a concept was a culmination of many different factors, the definitive “ah-ha” moment came during a report in my inbox — in a cubicle at the time — and noticed that it listed the “most valuable molecule” in the FDA pipeline as one of the candidates I had honed in on nearly a decade beforehand while I was still in grad school – the chance of a molecule coming to market throughout that time is 1 in 10,000, let alone to be named the most anticipated and valued treatment in the entire FDA pipeline. At that point, I knew I had to act, and I decided to combine my background in biotechnology, pharmacy, and supply chain management into becoming an entrepreneur again and start what is now Sphinx.
Fast forward seven years, and Sphinx has undergone major changes to stay on the bleeding edge of our industry. We have moved geographic headquarters across three states in the past five years and introduced four additional sub-brands into our model. Although both our scope and footprint have rapidly expanded notionally to adapt to the national demand, our core tenets have remained true. Our culture of cultivating innovation, scalability, flexibility, and comradery has helped us become vital cogs to our clients’ success and helped keep us ahead of the game.
Tell us how responsive Sphinx is to the changing needs of its clients.
Adaptability is built within our model and is at the very core of our operation. Despite the pandemic taking nearly $200K from our topline budget last year, we still managed to grow our operation by 120%. This would not have been the case if we did not continue to adapt our products and services to meet the present market needs. We stage our engagements on a milestone-based strategy versus hourly reimbursement, incentivizing our team to be effective with time management to reach our goals per agreement. Each of our verticals also respond to the ever-changing needs: SPRYNG, SYLTOS, and TEMPYL have allowed us to serve a much wider group of clients and scale up more effectively, all while providing a solution for each engagement that incentivizes all parties. Our ability to adapt to change is second to none within our industry, and our clients have come to expect and appreciate that.
Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?
As recently as this past week, some of our new clients were undergoing some crucial compliance reviews and ran into a snag with their current software solutions – they were missing some vital evidence of their employee license verifications. Thankfully, we had programmed our software (AccreditGuard™) to run as a back-up for them in preparation for this event. Our software not only found the missing components but also maintained a historical log of the licenses in question, resolving the finding while the reviewer was still on-site, thereby saving the review and securing full accreditation. That vital detail helped curtail a potential loss of over 100 Million dollars to the client. Suffice to say that they will be sleeping better moving forward with our solution in the future.
From a broader standpoint, we also view the M&A attention as a metric of our success. This past year a few of our SPRYNG members have been acquired at premiums by much larger entities due to the level of their success with us and in the field. As a small company, we are always proud when even one of our clients is slated for an acquisition or bought for premiums on their multiples. This year we have been involved with a number of M&A deals in the space, and as we continue to grow, our client’s success stories are extremely validating.
Q. Where does Sphinx stand at the moment relative to other participants in the industry?
We are positioned perfectly for what is happening in the industry. When we started Sphinx, the specialty industry was burgeoning from an under $60 billion annually into the $500 billion behemoth it is today. We aimed to be on the forefront of challenging new therapies, and our focus is pushing us ever closer to that point. The complexities required to maintain compliance and adapt to the SP industry changes are vast, and although some of our competitors may boast similar services to our clients, we aim to be disruptors in our industry and always stay on that bleeding edge.
We offer solutions to hospitals, nursing agencies, infusion centers, and pharmacies across the entirety of the development spectrum – whether they are a 50-state integrated delivery model or a startup mom-and-pop – we take the challenge head-on, and we strive to deliver the best results for population health that we can. Knowing that we will all be patients one day keeps us laser-focused on adding valuable disruptive solutions where they are needed most in our industry.
Q. What are the different solutions Sphinx offers? And how unique are they?
We offer a soup-to-nuts solution for developing, growing, and operating a successful specialty pharmacy business. Whether a client’s model calls for a traditional mom-and-pop independent, integrated infusion center or multi-state cancer center, we develop solutions within models that are focused on the healthcare of tomorrow. Most consultancies do not develop five specific brands to capture the services that they offer. Although we have competitors under each one of our brands, there is truly no other model of healthcare consulting group like ours out there in the industry. We pride ourselves in this stark differentiation, and by doing so, we have gained a significant foothold in the specialty industry.
Regarding accreditation services, whether a client requires guidance through any infusion, retail, or mail-order model, Sphinx offers support and customized templating in policy and procedure, security, HIPAA, human resource, and clinical solutions across all vital accreditations in the space. Not only do we ensure these clients pass their visit(s) with confidence and clarity, but we support hem afterwards as well. Sphinx has maintained 100 percent accreditation success rate for our clients since our inception and by doing so we have represented nearly 20% of all URAC-accredited specialty pharmacies on their path towards success. Moreover, 60% of our leadership team is comprised of premier-level certified ACHC consultants, which echoes an unparalleled commitment to quality versus our competition and helps us stay proactive with our other brands.
SPRYNG™: Specialty Pharmacy Partner Network is a select group of accredited independent specialty pharmacies. High-performing and dually accredited SP’s from across the country have joined forces to create a one-of-a-kind preferred nationwide independent specialty pharmacy network. SPRYNG Network drives additional avenues for key stakeholders in the specialty pharmacy supply chain to have added value that currently is not available through the traditional independent specialty pharmacy. SPRYNG Network works with pharmaceutical organizations, PBM’s, payers, 340B entities, and other organizations in key specialty therapies.
SYLTOS™ and ACCREDITGUARD™ Software Platforms: Time-savings and automated compliance solutions and software for maintaining active licensing and not falling behind on your compliance tasks. Through our proprietary AccreditGuard™ and SYLTOS™ Software, we attack compliance management, training/credentialing, and license management for you remotely. Our software maintains a top-to-bottom comprehensive document management and compliance solution, including tasks, policies, customized training, policy and procedure portals, and a dedicated consultant over managing your environment.
TEMPYL™: It is our manufacturer and operations best-practice insight and research brand. Publishing items like the most comprehensive database and simulations on potential costs and values upon approvals, TEMPYL offers some of the most unique and consolidated best practices and insights across the industry.
Q. That’s not all Sphinx does. What are its other focus areas?
We have grown to this point exclusively by word-of-mouth and a laughable marketing budget – we did that intentionally. Without additional financing or external equity, our ability to take hold of nearly 25% of the accredited specialty pharmacy locations within six years is quite an accomplishment. With the additional brands, we areexploring >100MM USDverticals as potential goals for some of our brands, which is extremely exciting.
Most folks in the industry have traditionally thought of us as the “Accreditation” guys – the ones you call when compliance is needed, and expert guidance is urgent. We have expanded that expertise into a focus on new therapies, a partnership with a wider array of providers, and grown a network that is truly catalyzing change for independents and patients within the industry. We are most thrilled about our SPRYNG and ACCREDITGUARD expansions to help us reach those lofty goals, but we are thrilled about our prospects for growing SRYNG, TEMPYL and our software ACCREDITGUARD for 2022-2023.
Q. How do you plan to counter challenges you think Sphinx might face in the next five years?
Having the right people on the team is paramount. We moved our headquarters to Indianapolis to exponentially scale up and to do so within a state that incentivizes developments and innovations in life sciences. Our solutions are positioned perfectly for scalability within this space, but it takes a village to coordinate and galvanize the visions. The biggest challenge will be supporting our growing team of leaders the right way and expand the units appropriately – we have to make sure the whole team gets a good night’s rest while still driving triple-digit ROI’s.
The Visionary Leader at the Helm of Sphinx Strategies
Vic Simianu is the founder, Principal Consultant, and Chief Executive Officer of Sphinx Strategies. A serial entrepreneur with a passion for biotechnology and healthcare, Vic has grown Sphinx from a small company focusing on accreditations into four separate brands that each aim to keep Sphinx on the bleeding edge of specialty therapies. Being one of the first ACHC-certified specialty pharmacy consultants as well as achieving one of the first URAC Specialty Pharmacy Accreditations, Vic has ridden the exponential growth within the SP industry as accreditations and therapeutic focus have become primary differentiators. He intimately understands the nature and history of the accrediting bodies, the rapid evolution of the accreditation standards themselves, and the ever-expanding value behind engaging and maintaining accredited processes.
Specifically, within Oncology, Vic has integrated and developed specialty services with IDNs across the nation, managed acute and outpatient purchasing supply chains, and took part in planning and preparing operations for a state-of-the-art Proton Cancer Therapy Center. His firm specializes in building out specialty centers of excellence, some even achieving world’s first achievements like the highly sought after Specialty Pharmacy Distinction in Oncology through ACHC. Vic’s experience in seeing the specialty pharmacy industry grow from many perspectives helps Sphinx Strategies achieve the goal of “carving excellence in specialty pharmacy” and capture unprecedented patient outcomes in oncology, immunology, and many other specialty diseases states.
Vic is a self-proclaimed “Hoosier at heart.” He holds an MBA in Life Sciences, Entrepreneurship, and Finance from Indiana University’s prestigious Kelley School of Business as well as a degree in Biotechnology and Management from Indiana University.