Managed Healthcare Executive's October issue headlines 10 healthcare leaders in its fourth annual "10 Emerging Industry Leaders" feature. MHE spotlights each leader individually with a Q&A interview between MHE and the emerging leader.
Jennifer Tryon, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP, associate vice president and chief pharmacy officer, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; residency program director for the Health System Pharmacy Administration and Leadership Residency Program
I grew up in Western Europe and came to the United States when I was 18 to pursue a pharmacy degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s of science from the University of Wisconsin. I went on to complete a two-year administrative residency at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.
I took a job as the assistant director at Oregon Health & Sciences University and then became the assistant director of pharmacy and residency program director at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington. I also served as the chief pharmacy officer at the University of Chicago Medical Center and as the director of graduate pharmacy education there.
Why did you choose your profession?
When I was growing up, my parents introduced me to the importance of having a liberal arts approach to life. I had a passion for leadership and helping others and an interest in the arts and sciences. I sought a profession where I could apply my diverse interests in service to others. The pharmacy profession allows me to work with talented teammates on innovative models of care, with a focus on improving services to our communities.
What has been your biggest learning experience in the industry? What did it teach you?
I’ve learned the importance of teamwork and collaboration in achieving success. Collectively, we can leverage our different skill sets, ideas and energy to create services that would otherwise not have been possible.
How has COVID-19 affected your responsibilities and how your organization operates? How might your job and your organization change because of the pandemic?
COVID-19 has impacted the manner in which our teams interact, especially as it pertains to introducing virtual platforms. There is a silver lining that the pandemic has afforded our organization in that we have ensured patient access to pharmacy services by leveraging telehealth platforms, expanding our population health platforms for community outreach to high risk patients, and introducing drone delivery of medications and equipment. I am proud to work for an organization that fosters innovation in care models.
How has the current discussion of racism and healthcare inequity affected you, your outlook and your organization? What has been the short-term response, and what do you envision happening over the longer term to your organization and American healthcare?
In the short term, we are creating awareness by providing forums to learn about racial inequalities and share our thoughts and emotions. The challenge I see before us is how we can move from awareness to actions aimed at decreasing racial disparities and ensuring all patients have the essentials; for example, housing, food and healthcare. This movement requires leadership and a commitment to study and address gaps in how we care for those we serve.
We cannot deliver on our mission of patient-centered care if we aren’t addressing racism and the impact of race on healthcare. This begins with an understanding of the health inequities specific to the Black community served by our health system so we can work to address them. As leaders and healthcare professionals, we are in positions of incredible influence in our community, and we have a responsibility to ensure that we leverage the opportunity to be and do better.
What other kinds of changes do you expect to see in healthcare in the next five to 10 years?
I expect to see medications become increasingly specialized and expensive. We need better methods to ensure affordability and access to care for patients. I also think healthcare will increasingly move to care in the home.
An area for healthcare to embrace is technology advancement and machine learning. This will present an opportunity to redeploy healthcare professionals to areas like primary care and geriatrics where patient needs are growing.
What have you enjoyed about social distancing and extra stay-at-home time during the past few months?
I have also enjoyed seeing my team flourish without us being together every day. It has been rewarding to see great progress even though we were working remotely.