David Calabrese, RPh, MHP, senior vice president and chief pharmacy officer, OptumRx
Over the last 12 years of his career, Calabrese has dedicated his work to pharmacy benefit management. His leadership work in areas such as opioid risk management, evidence-based pharmacy and therapeutics committee execution, compound drug management, and pharmacy benefit management transparency have been well-publicized as key benchmarks within the industry.
MHE: Why did you choose your profession?
Calabrese: I followed in the footsteps of my grandfather, who ran an independent pharmacy in our Connecticut hometown. I was inspired at an early age by his integrity, sense of caring, dedication to the profession, and how well-respected and valued he was among those he served within our community. Throughout my career, I’ve attempted to emulate his professionalism and combine that with the strong sense of accountability and work ethic my parents instilled in me, to help drive further advancements in population-based pharmacy care.
MHE: What has been your biggest learning experience?
Calabrese: An appreciation for the enormous value of effective data management and analytics in helping to transform our healthcare system from a “volume-based” business to a much more desirable “value-based” model. Within Optum, our ability to harness the power of such capabilities, extending well beyond just pharmacy data, has enabled important advancements in clinical programming. Transforming data into timely, meaningful “next best actions” is helping to empower enhanced provider and patient engagement, drive more rapid adoption of new evidence-based standards, and more positively impact both the overall quality and economics of care.
MHE: What change would you like to see in healthcare in the next 10 years?
Calabrese: While I’ve witnessed enormous strides in advancing the state of healthcare in the United States over the years, I still remain fairly disheartened by the level of disconnectedness that prevails across our industry. My hope is that the future state will more closely reflect one in which data and electronic health information is more fully unlocked and seamlessly shared across the healthcare continuum to achieve more patient-centered, higher-quality care, greater cost-efficiency, and a healthier society.
MHE: If you could sit down to dinner with anyone involved in healthcare, who would it be?
Calabrese: It would be Sidney Garfield, MD, the lesser-known cofounder of Kaiser Permanente and one of the pioneers of managed healthcare in the United States. Throughout his career, he held firmly to the belief that healthcare should not simply be focused on care for the sick, but more broadly emphasize a focus upon the entire spectrum of care from prevention, to education, to wellness and health maintenance. His ultimate goal was to make healthcare more accessible, efficient, and affordable for everyone, while still providing the highest quality medical care. Today, his vision remains as a beacon of guidance for advancing the future of healthcare.