Why I Left My Career as a Pharmacist to Become a Consultant and Help Other Hospitals

Written By: Jake Thompson, PharmD, MS, jthompson@spendmend.com

Over the past 18+ years in pharmacy, I have constantly been changing roles within the sector. I have held pharmacy technician and intern roles in both retail and hospital settings. I have been a PGY1 clinical resident and PGY2 administrative resident. These experiences positioned me to quickly take on various pharmacy leadership roles in a variety of settings in both the government and private health care arena.  The common trend during these experiences has been the constant rise of drug costs, drug shortages, and new therapies.

These three trends forced me to create teams to focus on medication procurement in each of my leadership positions. The more we dove into medication procurement, the more that opportunities and questions surfaced. As the complexities of drug costs, drug shortages, and new therapies arose, it became evident that we needed external consultants to help us. After many frustrating engagements along the way, I was fortunate to eventually find a true partner in Turnkey Pharmacy Solutions. Turnkey brought the 340B expertise our team needed when managing the complexities of pharmacy procurement.

At the same time, Turnkey was finding that other health systems were not able to focus on the financial opportunities surrounding day to day operations and long-term strategy regarding pharmacy procurement.  They recognized the success our team was having around 340B and they convinced me to change roles yet again, but this time as a consultant.

It was clear to me that if we applied the same principles to medication procurement to other hospitals and clinics, we could make a difference. If we could triple my region’s 340B savings in three years in my previous role, why couldn’t we help other hospitals do this too?  In talking with other colleagues in pharmacy leadership positions, they agreed that they were leaving millions of dollars on the table. These conversations highlighted the opportunity for us to create a team that could help  hospitals return  dollars to their bottom line and allow them to reinvest those funds into quality patient care.

It was my experience of working with Turnkey that led me to leave my career as a pharmacist and dedicate myself to helping other hospitals to optimize their own drug spend.  I thought at that time, and I still believe, that I could do more good by working with covered entities across the country to lift many boats rather than to simply stay in one network and focus my attention on only one patient population.

The decision to join Turnkey (SpendMend Pharmacy) as the head of their optimization and growth services is one I have not regretted for even a single moment over the last two years. I am proud of the work my team has done and now since our recent merger with SpendMend, am looking forward to serving many more networks in the years to come.

My training in pharmacy leadership always taught me to measure, track, and document your success (and failures). This philosophy is vital to ensure that the right solutions are in place for the problems being worked on. It also helps gain trust and confidence from various stakeholders impacted by the change. We are excited to share in our next blog post the analysis on our team’s impact across two years of engagements. For a better look at the savings opportunity in your drug spend, visit the SpendMend website and schedule a free consultation with me or with one of our other expert consultants.