General Session: Innovation and Change in the Healthcare System

AMCP CEO Susan Cantrell, RPh, CAE, began the General Session by discussing the trends in healthcare: “We need to free up space in the healthcare ecosystem to pay for the new and exciting agents [coming to market],” she said. “We can address the challenging headlines [surrounding drug prices] to make effective medicines available and affordable.”

“AMCP is not only adapting to meet external challenges; we are evolving to meet the needs of our members,” she said, noting that the AMCP organization turns 30 this year, before inviting the eight founding members of the Academy to join her onstage for recognition.

Outgoing AMCP President Diana Brixner, RPh, PhD, then presented the newly elected board members: President-Elect James T. Kenney, RPh, MBA, and Directors Deb Schering Curry, PharmD, Patrick P. Gleason, PharmD, BCPS, and Debra J. Minich, RPh.

Incoming AMCP President Mitzi Wasik, PharmD, challenged members to go beyond simply adjudicating claims and to think about the actual patient behind the decisions made in managed care pharmacy. She also challenged new members and young pharmacists to reach out and find mentors at AMCP. “If you can’t find a mentor at AMCP, you’re not looking hard enough,” she said.

Next, the keynote speaker, John Rossman, former Director of Enterprise Services at, addressed the rapidly changing healthcare system and how technology and innovation can be used to create new business models and solutions to solve some of the biggest challenges in the field. He used some of Amazon’s tactics to provide a model for leading change in the U.S. healthcare system.

One Amazon leadership principle is “customer obsession,” which works to bring the voice of the customer into the organization to improve customers’ experience. “Great products and technologies start with a customer challenge,” he said, and, often, these innovative ideas involve partnerships across entities, platforms, and organizations.

Another leadership principle he touched on was simplicity: “Making things simple is more difficult than creating them,” said Mr. Rossman. Despite all of the technology we have, it is difficult—but most important—to create simple processes and procedures. “What are the errors in the business that are closest to the customer, and how to do you enable change to address the root cause of the issue?” he asked.

He also advised “constantly” challenging the status quo with a continuous pursuit of improvement when innovating. Determine your organization’s core competencies, and make sure there is a roadmap and process for collecting ideas to drive scale and innovation, he said.

Lastly, he said to think big. Innovation is just stringing together your failures, said Mr. Rossman, “but you have to be able to afford those failures.” At Amazon, when an idea is devised, the company avoids PowerPoint presentations and requires a written narrative with “complete sentences and ideas that someone else can read and understand without you explaining it,” said Mr. Rossman. “This is hard to do.” Three main sections of the narrative include:

  • What delighted the customer about the new service or product?
  • What are the metrics and/or business case that justifies or measures progress on the product?
  • What are the big issues you had to solve to achieve this?

He concluded, “Is Amazon going to be interested in getting into the healthcare industry? The question is not is but when!” he said. He advised that attendees act as if Amazon—or someone else—has already come forward to change the rules of this industry. “What would your response be then?” he asked, saying that stakeholders should get involved now. “The biggest risk you have is not moving to disrupt and innovate yourself before someone else does,” said Mr. Rossman.

Presentation: General Session. AMCP Annual Meeting 2018.