What is the top challenge or obstacle facing health care today?

The top challenge facing health care today is low health literacy rates. According to the CDC, only 12% of Americans have proficient health literacy, which is the ability to understand health care information to make appropriate decisions.  Because of a physician's time constraints, there just isn't time for adequate patient disease and/or medication education. Patients often don't understand their total picture of health, and this often causes additional health problems, which leads to higher healthcare costs and waste.
What do you feel are the key drivers of health care transformation?
From my perspective, the key drivers of healthcare transformation are individualized patient care, digital technology innovation, and data.

  1. Individualized patient care – every person's healthcare journey is unique, and their care should be also.  Members deserve an individualized approach to care that addresses all their health concerns and disease states, with an advocate meeting them where they are in their healthcare journey.  It is important to understand why a person isn't meeting their clinical goals and develop care plans that help them overcome these barriers. In addition, growing fields like pharmacogenetics enable the care team to ensure that the right drug to provide the best outcome can be chosen from the beginning of the prescribing process.
  2. Digital Technology Innovation – There has been an explosion in digital technology innovation in healthcare. This innovation is creating massive amounts of data. Being able to mine the data to make intelligent, thoughtful decisions will enhance member care and hopefully help improve health literacy. That said, the data this technology creates will never paint a complete picture of health. There are certain pieces of data you can only get through personal interactions.  Therefore, making sure the data makes the personal interactions more effective and efficient is critical and will deliver better care for patients.
  3. Data – Because there is so much data, and consumers want easy access to their data, it will be important to determine how to use the data to drive innovation and patient value, but still maintain privacy and security.

What are some of the key trends you are seeing with respect to employer-sponsored health care?
The increase in high deductible health plans coupled with low health literacy rates can be a bad combination because members don't always know how to use their health benefits or they don't use them at all. In pharmacy, we like to say, the most expensive medication is the one that isn't taken correctly. The same analogy holds true for healthcare in general. Improving employee health literacy should be an overall goal in effort to improve health outcomes and reduce employer and employee cost.
Another trend we have seen with the onset of the pandemic is an increase in mental health concerns.  Many employers are now seeing mental health ranking in the top 5 cost categories. Mental health impacts overall health and the ability to make appropriate healthcare decisions.
Finally, employers are excited about digital technology, data integration, and ways to use data to improve outcomes and member experience.

What motivates you to keep doing the work that you do?

I have always been passionate about pharmacy care and the impact Pharmacists have on the care management team. My team consistently delivers on our founding values of providing patient-centered care and advocating for people with chronic disease. By always doing the right thing for the patient and the client, we're really moving the needle in clinical and financial outcomes. Non-optimized medication use is a very expensive problem that hasn't always been a priority. My team remains committed to ensuring our patients are taking the right medication, at the right time, to achieve the best outcomes.

What's the one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring health care leader?
Be a good listener. The best health leader is listening to their patients and providers to understand the problems and challenges they are facing, versus relying on perceptions. This allows healthcare leaders to ensure they're solving for the problems that affect them.