Employee Voices

The Gift of Leading with Heart

For Kande Buck-Johnson, purpose-driven leadership finds a place to thrive at McKesson.

We all have something that makes us tick, and for Kande Buck-Johnson, it’s a passion for helping people.

That drive to make a difference is the force behind her fast ascension from hospital pharmacy director, to 340B program expert, to esteemed female tech leader and busy executive at McKesson today.

Paving a Path for a Successful New Business

Kande began her McKesson career as one of the first employees at Macro Helix, McKesson’s technology management business dedicated to supporting the 340B pharmacy program. Throughout her 11-year tenure in the organization, she brought a wealth of program knowledge, technology expertise and a customer-first mindset that helped Macro Helix become the successful 340B industry leader that it is today.

First, a little background on 340B. Created by the federal government back in 1992, the 340B Drug Pricing Program enables eligible covered entities that serve indigent (uninsured or low-income) patients, such as hospitals or outpatient clinics in rural communities, to purchase medications at discounted prices. Ultimately, it allows them to help more patients who otherwise couldn’t afford those medications.

Serendipitously enough, it was 340B that found Kande at the very start of her career, and not the other way around.

“I knew nothing about 340B whatsoever when I was interviewing for my first job at a hospital pharmacy,” she recalls. “In fact, my main goal as their director of pharmacy was supposed to be building a cohesive, cross-functional team within the hospital. But I soon learned that my role would actually be to get their new 340B program up and running.”

Being a self-starter, Kande quickly got up to speed on the ins and outs of the program. Before long, she was the hospital’s resident expert for 340B.

She did her job so well that it caught the attention of two 340B advisors who went on to launch Macro Helix. A few years after working with them on a proposal at the hospital, they invited her to join their new team.

“When I was at the hospital, I felt like I was only helping one community, but I craved the opportunity to help many,” she explains. “The founders of Macro Helix shared that vision, so I knew they were the right people to follow.”

Leading with Flair – and Empathy

More than just a third-party 340B advisor, Macro Helix, which McKesson acquired in 2012, supports hospitals and contract pharmacies across the U.S. with its 340B program management technology. These software solutions help customers improve their financial performance and operational efficiency.

Kande-Buck-Johnson

Kande Buck-Johnson

But what really sets Macro Helix apart is its high-touch customer relationship approach, which makes customers feel they have a true partner in their corner.

Kande found her niche helping customers implement Macro Helix’s solutions. From there, her career progressed quickly. In her first six years at the company, she ascended from manager, to director, to vice president. All the while, Macro Helix was growing at a fast clip – and Kande’s knowledge was instrumental in helping scale McKesson’s newly acquired business. In the nine years following the acquisition, Kande helped grow Macro Helix from a modest team of seven to more than 250 employees today.

Throughout her tenure, Kande has found that her own passion for making a difference in patients’ lives dovetails with McKesson’s dedication to putting its customers and their patients first.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, she got a call from a small rural hospital that was struggling to pay their bill.

“I knew about this customer’s challenges making their payments, so I called them to help come up with a flexible solution,” she says.

The customer requested 60 more days, promising they’d be able to pay within that time. And they lived up to that promise.

Shortly thereafter, the hospital’s chief financial officer (CFO) called Kande to thank her for Macro Helix’s assistance. As it turns out, the hospital’s situation had been far more dire than Kande had realized. The CFO explained that in the weeks leading up to their conversation, the hospital was on the brink of rationing the number of patients coming in for infusions – they simply couldn’t afford their medications without 340B.

With the help of Kande and her team, they didn’t have to turn any patients away. One of those patients, the CFO added, was her own mother, who was able to continue her cancer treatments at that hospital.

“She was so grateful to Macro Helix that we didn’t just see their hospital as a revenue-generating customer,” Kande says, “but instead, really understood their situation and helped them find a working solution so they could continue treating their patients.”

And for Kande, making that kind of impact has been the most rewarding part of her career at McKesson, and one she plans to continue in her new role as vice president of product development and management in the company’s Pharmacy & Healthcare Solutions business.

“We may not see the patients who are benefiting from what we do, but knowing my work is helping change their lives is one of the greatest gifts I could ask for,” she says. “I can’t express the gratitude I feel in serving these communities.”

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