Interview: Jennifer Yowler, President of PharMerica

Jennifer Yowler, a health care executive with more than 20 years’ experience, has taken the helm as president of PharMerica, which is a part of BrightSpring Health Services. Headquartered in Louisville, PharMerica is a leader in the long-term care (senior living communities, skilled nursing, hospice, behavioral), specialty, infusion, and hospital pharmacy industries with operations in all 50 states.

Medical News: What are your top priorities in your new role as president of PharMerica?

Jennifer Yowler: My top priority in this new role is to maintain our top performance in customer service and quality, and as a means to drive growth—because that’s how we can best serve the millions of patients in the country who rely on our services. If we’re growing and serving more people with high-quality medication availability and management, it means we’re doing something right. And when you’re in the business of delivering care and improving health outcomes, there’s really no alternative.

PharMerica serves some of our country’s most complex and high-need individuals: those in long-term care, senior living, hospice, IDD/behavioral health, home health and hospital settings. As more of our population ages, the number of people requiring long-term care pharmacy services will rise. To support them in the years and decades to come, we have to take a strategic approach to delivering needed solutions today. Well-managed pharmacy services are very important to reducing unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations and waste in the healthcare system.

Beyond that, I am personally committed to ensuring our organization is serving and supporting our employees – through recognition, the environment they work in, and advancement opportunities – who make all our important work possible.

MN: The last two years have been highly disruptive to companies supporting the health care system. What changes or shifts in particular are you watching in the long-term care pharmacy industry?

JY: Despite the challenges of the past two years, we’re committed to the most reliable solutions for customers and patients and innovation in pharmacy services and the provision of additional needed services to customers, such as high-quality primary care and care transitions programs – to help our customers best manage through an ever-evolving landscape. We also want to expand the recognition of the important role the long-term care pharmacy sector plays in our health care system. Our population is aging and facing many new health challenges that will require even more specialized care and services. LTC pharmacies will play an ever-increasing role in supporting the needs of individuals who need care in the facilities we serve, as well as in their home. That’s why we’re encouraging Congress to pass the Long-Term Care Pharmacy Definition Act to better recognize the unique role we play.

MN: Home to many leading health care companies, including PharMerica, Louisville has become a hub for health care innovation. What do you think makes Louisville so attractive to organizations in the health care industry?

JY: It’s been really exciting to see—and be a part of—Louisville’s growth as a hub for health care and aging innovation. There are many great, innovative and growing health care companies that are based in Louisville. Companies and employees seeking relocation or wondering where to set up shop can see the evolution the city is experiencing, and they want to be a part of it. It’s a great place to live and raise a family – even more now than in years past, people want locations with easy commutes and manageable costs of living. Louisville and its leaders in both the public and private sectors are committed to making the city a hub for health care, and that says a lot. Our company plays a key role in the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council, which is helping to lead numerous initiatives to drive workforce solutions, outcomes and data research, and the seeding of early-stage companies.

MN: As PharMerica’s first female president, and as another of BrightSpring’s female presidents and executive leaders, what does this mean to you, and what advice do you have for other women health care leaders or those looking towards leadership?

JY: Serving as PharMerica’s first female president is not something I take lightly. My daughter is now at the age where she’s starting to think about college and career opportunities beyond, and it’s really prompted me to reflect on the example I’m setting.

Women make up the majority of health care jobs in the U.S. but aren’t proportionately represented in leadership roles. At our company (BrightSpring) we’ve done better, with 70% of the managers being women. As an industry, while we’ve made great progress, there is a long way to go, especially after the pandemic pushed many women in health care out of the workforce. To come full circle, this is one of the reasons why it’s so important that we prioritize making PharMerica a great place to work and to do what we can to create an accommodating environment for our employees at all levels. We have a big focus on culture today, as we continue to invest in our people and, for example, formalize more career paths and ladders for development. The pharmacy industry is a terrific one with a lot of need for so many women to find long-term homes and opportunities.