The future chief pharmacy officer

With fewer people applying for pharmacy degree programs and residencies, it's vital for health system leaders to foster the next generation of chief pharmacy officers, executives told Becker's.

Hospital pharmacy leaders of the future will be defined by their business skills and change management prowess, according to four health system pharmacy chiefs. Patients are increasingly seeking virtual and at-home healthcare services, and hospital pharmacy leaders need to include these consumer trends in their strategic plans, the CPOs said. 

Here are their thoughts on the future of health system pharmacy leadership:

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Madeline Camejo, PharmD. Vice President of Pharmacy Services and Chief Pharmacy Officer at Baptist Health South Florida (Coral Gables): 

  • AI is going to change every aspect of our living, and it's going to happen in pharmacy, too. So, how do you then understand all those technologies and be able to improve pharmacy operations? Exercising change management skills; you have to have those today. But I think in the future, there's a lot more that is going to be needed, especially business development skills, experience in developing and executing strategies to grow the pharmacy services, and expanding market research.

  • A chief pharmacy officer who is not paying attention will fail to see that the landscape is going to be a lot of infusions — and if you're not ready and you're not building infusion centers and you're not doing that for your system, you're going to be behind. You're definitely, in three to five years, going to be behind the market. Why? Because it's growing. You have to understand [...] what are the trends, what is the pipeline, what are the things that are happening in the future so that you can prepare your healthcare system to be in line and ahead of the market when these things start to show. So for me, we're building infusion centers.

Desi Kotis, PharmD. Chief Pharmacy Executive of UCSF (San Francisco): 

  • Being able to delegate and being able to trust those under you who obviously are working with you as a team. [The ideal CPO] is somebody who can not only lead a strategic plan but also make sure people on the team are accountable for those goals and tactics of the strategic plan.

  • You have to be a real change agent and manage change — while not saying don't be thoughtful and think things through and make sure these [new therapies] are safe and sound processes and workflows — but your team may also have to pivot. So you may have your strategic plan, and then something comes out. And then you have to really steer people to what is happening.

Sue Mashni, PharmD. Chief Pharmacy Officer at Mount Sinai Health System (New York City): 

  • Be well-versed enough to integrate with your IT team, be able to optimize the tools at hand. I think being well connected, both nationally and internationally with others, to be able to make recommendations on best practice [and] to know a lot about automation [is important]. Be looking more toward ways to make certain that every one of your practitioners works to the highest level of their practice and that you're doing away with nonvalue-added functionalities and really honing in on the parts of your process that are most clinically important.

  • I think as we grow new leaders in pharmacy, it's important for pharmacists to show what all our skill sets [are]. What are all the skill sets that we have? Certainly, I think it's really important for CMS to [see] us as providers so that we can bill appropriately for our time, our energies and the work that we do.

Denise Scarpelli, PharmD. Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer for University of Chicago Medicine: 

  • Pharmacy is constantly changing; healthcare is constantly changing. As we're talking, there's new stuff coming out all the time, [including] AI technology. That person has to be someone who is engaged in the market or the industry and is someone who can change very quickly and an individual who can lead a team through change.

  • I think that the CPO of the future has to be very business-minded, and have good financial acumen but be nimble, and really understand what's happening in the marketplace so they can shift and be creative to figure out what's the next move.

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