Meet Our Expert: To Andrew Wilson – People, Problem Solving, and the Knock-on Effect of Positivity Can Make Pharmacy Fun

Discover why, to Andy Wilson, the business of pharmacy is personal.

Read time: 3 minutes

By: McKesson Health Systems Editorial Team, Andrew Wilson

Making a move

For Andrew (Andy) Wilson, enthusiasm is contagious. So, it’s not altogether surprising that as a college freshman, then-biology major Andy caught the pharmacy bug while hanging out in the dorms one night with some of his buddies – who happened to be pharmacy majors – and hearing the excitement in their voices as they described their interesting classes, their plans for the future, and so on. It was more than just excitement that convinced Andy to declare pharmacy as his new major, though. “There was the potential to really help people, and that’s something I knew I wanted to do.” And it was that drive for bettering patient outcomes that ultimately led him toward a career in clinical pharmacy specifically.

“Handling drugs was fine,” he says, “but understanding what those drugs did, talking to patients about their care needs, and effecting change on that front were all particularly compelling for me.”

After spending time at the bedside as a clinical pharmacist at an academic medical center in Ohio, Andy (Andrew Wilson, B.S., PharmD, by this time – later adding FASHP to his CV) was recruited as the clinical coordinator of Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans, where he was tasked with hiring, managing, and training other clinical pharmacists across the health system. It was this role, he remembers, that really cultivated his passion for helping develop people. “It was fun to lead people who were on the same journey I had been on and seeing how our efforts as a team could really be amplified.” As the scope of a clinical pharmacist’s role began to expand around this time, Andy became the Director of Pharmacy Services, and this fortunate timing allowed him to help reframe the view of pharmacy as a combination of business activities, clinical activities, and patient care alike. In these and other leadership roles, including as a Chief Pharmacy Officer, Andy assumed the responsibility of “[…] managing a business where clinical pharmacy was key in the value that the business delivered – but,” he says, “I was never too far removed from patient care. I’ve always felt connected to and motivated by it.”

A winning strategy

In his current role with McKesson as Vice President, Professional and Advisory Services, Andy continues weaving his pharmacy expertise into business solutions with a professional, data-driven approach to gaining insights that will ultimately help improve care and outcomes for MHS customers and the patients they serve, as well as the health of the system overall. In collaboration with McKesson’s Macro Helix colleagues, Andy’s team helped develop 340B Impact, a tool that translates data into opportunities to improve and change certain aspects of care delivery and other processes in order to support the 340B community as a whole. Having spent an entire career in non-profit health systems, he has seen firsthand the immensely positive difference the 340B program can make for hospitals and the patients they serve. In one of his previous roles, as 340B was just gaining momentum, Andy worked to set up a large-scale retail and specialty pharmacy that was a much-needed lifeline for countless patients who may not have had access to those drugs and services otherwise. “Without 340B, that pharmacy wouldn’t have been possible,” he explains.

In some ways more vivid, though, are the memories of how hard-pressed providers, administrators, and patients were (and still are) when it comes to “getting the things they need to be able to do what they need to do.” Finding solutions to overcome those challenges keeps Andy and his team moving forward each day, but it’s really that domino-like effect that positive change can have to which Andy attributes his drive. And that starts with a commitment to making sure his team is well supported in their efforts to carry out the task at hand. “From there, my team of 13 can impact 10s or 100s [of systems, people, or pharmacies], and those 10s or 100s can impact 1000s [of patients]. Really, what we’re trying to do is make a difference for the system so they can make a difference for the patient.” And not unlike his dorm days, Andy finds the enthusiasm of those around him infectious. “I am blessed to work with a small group of people who are energized by the same things I am. It’s fun. I truly enjoy it.”

The game of life

Andy’s upbeat nature and cheerful spirit shine through outside of work, too. At home in the Washington, D.C. area, he likes to noodle around on the guitar for an audience of one – himself – who he claims is the only one that thinks he’s good enough to listen to. Never one to isolate for too long, though, Andy fills the rest of his free time with “family, mostly” – biking 50 miles per week with his son-in-law, playing what are sure to be lively rounds of Scrabble and Michigan Rummy, and soaking in as much time as he can with his two-month-old grandson - because, we’re guessing, what’s more contagious than the joy of a newborn?

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