NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Cardinal Health Inc. will retain its enormous scale after the spin-off of its medical technology business while sharpening its focus, according to incoming chairman and chief executive officer George Barrett.
It will be a company “able to provide comprehensive health care and supply chain solutions, but one that will act more nimbly and with greater customer focus,” Barrett said at Cardinal’s annual retail business conference here.
The company announced last fall that Barrett would take the reins upon the completion of the spin-off of CareFusion Corp. on August 31. The 54-year-old Barrett has been vice chairman and chief of the company’s Healthcare Supply Chain Services segment since joining Cardinal in January 2008. He will succeed R. Kerry Clark as CEO.
Barrett vowed that Cardinal would work with independent pharmacies “to deliver innovative solutions and build deeper and richer partnerships in the long term.”
The company’s support can help pharmacies capitalize on “a tremendous opportunity to recapture a central role in heath care,” he commented. Calling pharmacies “a critical, increasingly important component of the health care system,” he said pharmacists serve as direct points of care, generally seeing their patients “more frequently than any other care provider.”
Barrett added that no other part of the health care system can fill the role of pharmacies. Pharmacists are among the most respected professionals in any community and “are being underutilized,” he said.
The cost benefit of pharmacies is clear, and it’s Cardinal’s mission to help free them up to deliver care, Barrett asserted.
As a systemwide player, Cardinal needs strong relationships with hospitals, large pharmacy operators, physicians and ambulatory care systems, “but most especially with independents,” remarked Barrett. “Without them we are simply out of balance as a company.”
Addressing health care reform, he noted that per capita health spending is projected to reach $12,000 by 2016, up from $300 in 1970. And the lack of insurance for tens of millions is hard to defend in a nation as wealthy as the United States, he said. The goal of covering every American and finding a way to pay for it has put pressure on health care costs as never before, but quality must be maintained, he stressed.
Assuring quality and safety is central to independent pharmacists’ value proposition, and providing tools to ensure a safe, secure and high-quality supply chain is fundamental to Cardinal’s strategy, according to Barrett. The company’s systems and services boost cost-effectiveness across the continuum of care, he added.
The retail business conference drew nearly 4,000 pharmacy owners and their families and, counting Cardinal employees and suppliers, a record crowd of over 5,000. Considering the “tough economic times, that’s pretty amazing,” remarked Mike Kaufmann, CEO of Cardinal’s pharmaceutical segment. “It really shows your commitment to the industry and how much you value our relationship.”
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