As it continues to ramp up its health care services, Walgreen Co. has hired two new executives for its pharmacy, health and wellness division.

Walgreens, Jeffrey Kang, Mike Elliss, health and wellness services, senior vice president, specialty pharmacy, infusion, Kermit Crawford, Greg Wasson, pharmacy, health care services, Cigna, community pharmacy, CVS Caremark, infusion pharmacy, Nimesh Jhaveri, Chicago Ideas Week, health and daily living stores, health care experience, pharmacy services, Fast Company

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Walgreens expands Rx, health and wellness teams

October 11th, 2011

DEERFIELD, Ill. – As it continues to ramp up its health care services, Walgreen Co. has hired two new executives for its pharmacy, health and wellness division.

Walgreens said Tuesday that it has named Dr. Jeffrey Kang as senior vice president of health and wellness services and solutions and Mike Ellis as vice president of specialty pharmacy and infusion.

Kang, slated to join the company Oct. 31, will report to Greg Wasson, president and chief executive officer, and to Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness. Ellis, who has joined the company, reports to Crawford.

Most recently Kang, 55, was chief medical officer at Cigna, where he was responsible for health strategy and policy for its medical, pharmacy and behavioral products, according to Walgreens. He also was responsible for Cigna's pay-for-performance programs, including its patient-centered medical home and accountable care organizations. Before Cigna, he served as chief clinical officer at the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) from 1998 to 2002. He also was chief medical officer for the Office of Managed Care from 1995 to 1998. Kang is board-certified in internal medicine and geriatrics.

"To advance community pharmacy and our role in the integration and cost-effective delivery of health care, we are continuing to strengthen the talent and leadership of our pharmacy, health and wellness organization," Crawford said in a statement. "Jeff comes to Walgreens after a long and diverse career in the health care industry. He has experienced the industry from all sides — as a practicing physician, from inside government and in the private sector. With his extensive background in health care, Jeff has the breadth of experience and strategic insight to lead our health and wellness businesses, building a dynamic organization that helps us meet customers' needs for access to quality, affordable health care."

A licensed pharmacist, the 53-year-old Ellis previously managed private investments for companies in health care and other industries. Before that, he was senior vice president of specialty trade relations and contracting and pharmaceutical services for CVS Caremark Corp. His 28-plus years of experience spans the specialty pharmacy and infusion services industries, including senior positions with such companies as AdvancePCS, Olsten Health Services and Quantum Health Resources.

Crawford noted that Ellis will bring key strategic oversight to Walgreens specialty pharmacy and infusion business units.

"Mike's well-rounded background in specialty and infusion pharmacy includes developing strategic service relationships with the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, and building new business opportunities," Crawford stated. "His leadership will be an important part of our opportunity to play a significant role as a provider in these growing pharmaceutical segments."

Also on the health and wellness front, Walgreens said that Nimesh Jhaveri, executive director of pharmacy and health care experience, on Tuesday will discuss the chain's efforts to transform its drug stores into "health and daily living stores" as part of the 2011 Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) event.

Jhaveri will shed light on Walgreens' 20-store pilot in Chicago, aimed at turning the pharmacy area into a neighborhood health center, as well as pilot stores in Indianapolis in a panel titled "Designing an Experience," held as part of the "Fast Company: Creativity Session" event during CIW.

"With this pilot initiative, we've aimed to evolve the traditional pharmacy and retail store format to meet the needs of our customers who are more involved than ever in managing their own care and are seeking cost-effective health care options delivered in a simple, customized way," Jhaveri stated. "When a customer walks into one of our new stores, we want them to have a very palpable feeling of wellness. With this in mind, we have focused on improving the design, convenience and quality of our pharmacy services, more effectively utilizing the space in the store, and fully leveraging the expertise of our highly trained pharmacy staff to help deliver an experience that reflects our capabilities and commitment to cost effective health care."

Also at CIW 2011, which runs through Sunday, Walgreens will host an iPad booth at the CIW Health and Wellness Talk on Oct. 16, which will also be located at the Museum of Contemporary Art. One of key new features in the Chicago pilot stores is the "health guide," who — equipped with an iPad — facilitates pharmacy visits and helps customers select over-the-counter products, prepare and register for a clinic visit or an immunization, and perform other tasks.

*Editor's Note: Article updated with information on Walgreens' Chicago Ideas Week participation.