Meet the Experts: Dr. Ola Spencer

27 June 2022

Please give an overview of your role within Optegra?

 I oversee all activity from supply and demand, how customers come to us, reviewing their full patient experience, the multi-channel customer engagement centre, including NHS referral management, infrastructure, governance and compliance, as well as data protection and security – all aspects of running the hospital group safely, efficiently and providing excellent service to our patients.

This is across all the countries where Optegra has a presence, and one core element in my group role is to share best practice, align the different countries around core pathways, adapting where we need to but also taking into account international differences. For example, optometrists have a much more advanced role here in the UK but that gives us an opportunity to shape the work of our optometrists in some European markets.

The latest addition to my role is to consider a big energy efficiency agenda and focus on that globally as a sustainable business.


What first attracted you to work in the operations side of a business?

 I come from a medical background, having studied in my home, Poland, and went on to contribute to clinical trials for new drug developments within paediatric oncology in the UK, working at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Then I moved into business consulting with IBM across big pharma and healthcare companies, covering a range of industries.

It is exciting to work on the business strategy with Optegra, understanding our patients and considering how we drive this business forward in an efficient, innovative way.  My role gives me visibility of the whole patient journey and I love the challenge of making improvements that can have a great impact.


How has data protection element changed over the years – why is it so important?

Data protection is essential, and the privacy of patients is at heart of what we do, it is within the DNA of our organisation.  But to develop that, we are also ensuring we are sharing data with the patients themselves – to be transparent and give them greater confidence in our services.


What brings you joy in your work?

People! My colleagues and our patients.

I love to visit the hospitals and shadow clinical pathways; it is amazing to see how patients experience treatment at Optegra and the benefits they receive.

And I have also experienced it at first hand, having had SMILE laser eye surgery myself, which was incredible.  I can absolutely relate to the joy that patients feel and understand the service they go through.

I also really value the internal team. We have an excellent culture here and work closely in multi-functional teams. I will have IT, facilities, health and safety teams all work together in tandem and showing incredible talents.


How has the operations team been changed due to the pandemic?

 There are two elements really.

In each country there were different challenges. For example, in the Czech Republic, there was a much higher pressure on service as they remained fully open and operational throughout – the challenge was to provide capacity to serve all those patients coming through, with staff off ill.

Also secondly, we have digitally transformed services and standardised the pathway, to be able to provide our patient with services remotely. We were the first one to provide virtual consultation to our patients followed by remote pre-op assessments.


Proudest moment of your career?

Within Optegra it has been creating the customer engagement centre which has been transformational for our organisation. It means we can now respond to 85 per cent of patient enquiries on their first call with first hand support immediately.

Also our e-clinics which launched recently and have been very well received in the UK where the market is much more digitally savvy. This has also gone live in Poland and we hope it will help us really screen patients as well as providing them the convenience of initial conversations from the comfort of their own home and minimise the amount of time they need to spend in hospital.


How would you describe the ethos of Optegra?

Collaborative, transparent, and always focusing on the patient to provide upmost care with excellent clinical outcomes.


Your perfect holiday?

That has changed with age, especially now we have children! We love active beach holidays – surfing, hiking, swimming and diving.


Any unusual hobby?

 I love music and play saxophone and piano – in fact I have a music degree so could teach professionally. I have loved playing in jazz bands in the past!


Any quirky recipe you cook?

Polish dishes are a wonderful tradition to keep in our home! I love to cook schnitzel, with mashed potatoes and boiled veg. It is very simple and very nice.

Dr. Ola Spencer, Group Operations Director and Data Protection Officer for Optegra
Ola Spencer Headshot

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