Becker's CEO + CFO Roundtable 2019: 3 Questions with Mike Brown, Vice President of Managed Services for Cardinal Health

Mike Brown serves as Vice President of Managed Services for Cardinal Health. 

On November 11th, Mike will serve on the panel "Key Thoughts on Controlling Pharmacy Costs - Lessons from Leadership" at Becker's 8th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place November 11-13, 2019 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Mike's session, click here.

Question: What is the single most important thing you need to do in your role? (ie: What do you have to be great at?)

Mike Brown: Hospital leaders face increasing demands on their time and must continually prioritize where to focus their efforts and energy. As I partner with hospital leaders, it’s important to assess the impact and benefits of projects to help prioritize initiatives.

For example, everyone is paying attention to the rise in specialty drug costs. Yet often there is little a hospital can do to lower their specialty drug spend. However, there are substantial cost savings possible through an improved reimbursement strategy and medication utilization-based projects. Not only would prioritizing these initiatives drive meaningful results, but they also are within the hospital’s span of control.

In addition, I find that hospital leaders can overlook the pharmacy in performance improvement initiatives, so it is ongoing education and advocacy about the pharmacy’s potential impact. The pharmacy should be a center of innovation for a hospital – and innovation is key to expanding services and improving care.

Q: There is a lot to improve upon in healthcare. Of the many issues that hold your attention, what is the one you consider exceptionally imperative and urgent?

MB: You need a sustainable medication utilization strategy if you’re going to succeed. Hospitals that don’t prioritize medication utilization initiatives may miss out on cost savings and quality improvements. After all, almost every patient receives at least one medication, and they are interacting with a pharmacist or a technician in some way. Ironically, the pharmacy is often one of the most underutilized resources to improve efficiencies and clinical programs. Traditionally, pharmacy has been viewed as a cost center. Yet managing the pharmacy only as a cost center negatively impacts clinical outcomes, quality improvement, and service line profitability, as well as overall hospital revenue and profitability. Pharmacies should be key partners for hospitals looking to improve medication utilization and costs, as well as outcomes, patient experience, and strategic goals. The best pharmacy leaders understand the hospital’s strategy and bring an operational excellence perspective to initiatives that align with the hospital’s goals.

Q: We are all pressed for time and attention. Help us sift through the meaningless and the meaningful by sharing the last thing you read, heard or did that shifted your mindset and really made a difference in your personal or professional life?

MB: In talking with leaders, many will describe the increasing complexity of managing a hospital or health system, and in the same breath, the importance of relying on a network of experts to guide them. There’s a broader acceptance today that they need partners who will proactively bring ideas and best practices to help them adapt to industry changes.

There’s also a renewed recognition that driving change in a clinical setting brings unique challenges. For example, driving change in a hospital requires collaboration across administrators and medical care teams – including the pharmacy. In addition, it requires a disciplined, operational excellence approach and core project management principles. It’s my experience that those who succeed with sustaining a culture of innovation are willing to take a fresh look at their resources, both internally, such as the pharmacy, as well as outside their organization – and then apply operational excellence principles to implement the initiatives.

Hospital leaders face increasing demands on their time and must continually prioritize where to
focus their efforts and energy. As I partner with hospital leaders, it’s important to assess the impact
and benefits of projects to help prioritize initiatives.
For example, everyone is paying attention to the rise in specialty drug costs. Yet often there is little a
hospital can do to lower their specialty drug spend. However, there are substantial cost savings
possible through an improved reimbursement strategy and medication utilization-based projects.
Not only would prioritizing these initiatives drive meaningful results, they also are within the
hospital’s span of control.
In addition, I find that hospital leaders can overlook the pharmacy in performance improvement
initiatives, so it is an ongoing education and advocacy about the pharmacy’s potential impact. The
pharmacy should be a center of innovation for a hospital – and innovation is key to expanding
services and improving care.

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