Pharmacy U

Leanne MacFarlane helps reframe the profession


Leanne-MacFarlane01As MHCSI’s Senior Director of Business Development, Leanne MacFarlane manages the operation of her entire division. “I oversee everything from soup to nuts, from B2B relations to clinical services to administration,” she notes. In her executive role, MacFarlane also ensures the company’s value proposition statement – Better Experience, Better Health, Better Value – comes to life. 


Education: Dalhousie University (Pharmacy)

Current role: Senior Director of Business Development at MHCSI Managed Health Care Services Inc. (Subsidiary of Sobeys Pharmacy Group)

As a young person, what intrigued you about being a pharmacist? Has that allure lasted?

As a high school student, I had a part-time job in a pharmacy. I was impressed by the pharmacists and by their leadership role. It made a lasting impression. I went off to Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and completed my BSc in biology. Then I needed to decide on what comes next. I’d always been interested in science and medicine, and pharmacy just seemed to resonate with me. I was interested in patient-focused care , and pharmacy embraced that approach. Even now this is the foundation from which I work. This job connects me to the frontline, where the patient focus is foremost. I bring that perspective to my clients. Organizations often see health plans as a cost. I remind them plans are so much more than that — they are an investment.

What do you think the future holds for pharmacy?

We’re approaching a significant tipping point. Pharmacy really has to step up and embrace its role as a primary healthcare provider. It’s about welcoming new opportunities – and actively looking for those opportunities. Today we can prescribe medications and give injections, but this is just the start. The profession is being reframed. We’re applying our expertise in new and important ways. Traditionally the way the profession has been reimbursed has channeled us in one direction. Now we need to take ownership and shape our own futures.

MHCSI has broken new ground in the pharmacy sector in Canada. How does your company work to foster innovation?

Innovation is central to the way we work. I like to look at what is happening in the pharmacy and see how this could be used by plan holders. For example, we internally funded medication reviews for plan members. We built a strong business case. Now several of our plan sponsors include med checks in their coverage. I have a unique perspective because of my role and background. I connect at an individual level with pharmacists and patients. I then translate this into enhancing health plans. I get to connect dots. This approach is integrated into the work we do. We work to create new standards.

How does advocacy help advance the work of pharmacy?

People need to see pharmacy in a new light. As a pharmacy benefits manager, we deliver value through the power of community pharmacies. If we do a great job, it’s because we have great pharmacy providers. That’s where the rubber hits the road. We need to support the frontline. This support includes providing information and new options. We can, for instance, offer flu shots in our pharmacies and we can go beyond this: we can set up a flu clinic in a workplace.  From there the relationship with that employer moves to a new level and we begin working with them on other medication and health management solutions for their members

Personally, how do you build advocacy into your role?

I take every opportunity to talk about what pharmacy is and what it can do and I try to lead by example. I still maintain an active licence and I do things like give flu shots. I stay connected and up to date. It’s about continuing the conversation.