Patrick Mitsch, PharmD, pharmacy director, UCare
After receiving a doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Minnesota in 2012, Mitsch worked as a retail pharmacy manager for CVS. He then joined CVS’ health insurance arm, Caremark, in 2013 as a clinical pharmacist in its Medicare business unit. He came to UCare, a not-for-profit health plan, in 2015, and he quickly ascended to director of pharmacy in 2017. At UCare, Mitsch, now 31, uses his community experience to lead innovative quality programs that advance medication adherence and focus on preventive opioid management, cost containment, and member and provider education.
MHE: Why did you choose your profession?
Mitsch: Growing up, I saw a pharmacist’s impact firsthand as my grandfather cared for my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease. This pharmacist always ensured that my grandfather had the necessary knowledge to manage my grandmother’s complex medication regimen. This experience led me to want to become a community pharmacist. After achieving this goal and being able to impact patient care on an individual level, I soon realized the benefits of influencing patient care on a population health level. As director of pharmacy at UCare, I can positively impact patient care for those communities and populations that need it most, including communities where I grew up and worked.
MHE: What has been your biggest learning experience?
Mitsch: Working for a health plan that serves many underserved populations has taught me that we need to have a holistic view when approaching patient care. For example, if we want to drive medication adherence for these members, we need to meet them where they are and understand the cultural, economic, and social issues that may be barriers.
MHE: What change would you like to see in healthcare in the next 10 years?
Mitsch: I would like to see the opioid epidemic become a thing of the past. This nationwide crisis requires engagement from all stakeholders to drive the kind of change needed to end this epidemic. Health plans play a significant role in this process and we must collaborate with, educate, and empower patients, providers, and the communities we serve at large.
MHE: If you could sit down to dinner with anyone involved in healthcare, who would it be?
Mitsch: Scott Gottlieb, the acting commissioner of the FDA. Gottlieb came into his role at an unenviable time with the opioid crisis and high drug prices constantly making headlines. He has taken a sensible approach to addressing these issues—increasing generic drug approvals, pushing a high-risk opioid off the market, and advocating for more widespread availability of medication-assisted treatment for opioid addicts. He has taken positive first steps to address these tough issues.