Fairfield University - B.S.N. + RN
Columbia University - Master's Degree
New York Medical - DrPh(c)
Meghan Fitzgerald works at the intersection of health care serving professionals, payors and pharmaceutical and biotech companies. And while this can get pretty complicated, ultimately Meghan, the president of Cardinal Health Specialty Health Solutions, works tirelessly day in and day out to ensure high-quality patient care.
Counting “science, data and helping people” among her many passions, Meghan finds it gratifying to be part of the solution in an industry that’s facing potentially massive reforms. “Right now, the front line of health care is the most important, interesting and challenging place to be," she says.
And while tackling multiple channels of the health care system is incredibly important, Meghan also understands the importance in achieving equilibrium and “being here now.” Whether it's heading a meeting, walking her Weimaraners or enjoying her favorite sport (UFC mixed martial arts!), Meghan tries to live her moments in totality. As she puts it, while true balance may be a myth, “no one considers you a hero … by skipping your vacation."
Consider all trials and tribulations as part of your journey.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the health care industry?
I tripped into my career, but looking back now, it all makes perfect sense.
I'm a nurse by trade and have always had a passion for science, data and helping people. I thrive on information and have been in school non-stop since kindergarten. With two master's degrees and now obtaining a doctorate in health policy, it ties in with my work in the health field. I was required to read the entire Affordable Care Act, which was a challenge. I now have a greater appreciation than ever for the professors and academics who work to change policy and develop future thinkers.
What does your job involve, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
Cardinal Health is a Fortune 21 company improving the cost-effectiveness of health care employing 30,000 people worldwide. It has brought together several existing and recently acquired businesses as the Specialty Solutions business, which I lead. Our company sits at the intersection of health care. We are a customer-focused business, serving three segments: health care professionals, payors and pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The goal is to know our customers intimately, their needs and what they value, so we can establish long-term partnerships.
We have services that help our pharmaceutical and biotech customers from "cradle to grave;" from scientific and regulatory consulting to product launch programs. For health care professionals, we provide everything from the distribution of specialty pharmaceuticals to value-added services to technology tools physicians need to run efficient offices. We partner with payors and health care professionals to help them develop evidence-based clinical pathways to improve patient care. And through our specialty pharmacy and reimbursement services, we offer investigation-benefit and prior-authorization solutions.
Ultimately, the goal of the services in my division is to ensure high-quality patient care.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Team wins and spending time with customers. Right now, the front line of health care is the most important, interesting and challenging place to be. The stakes are high and the private sector is needed at a level I've never seen before to address cost, quality and access issues the industry is facing. It's very gratifying to be part of the solution.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
If anything keeps me up at night, it’s the awareness that so much still needs to be done to help all players in the health care system come together to ensure patients have access to quality, cost-effective health care.
I’m acutely aware of the role my business plays in improving the costs and quality of health care. We primarily deal with specialty medications; ones often used to treat very challenging diseases, like cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and rheumatoid arthritis. We get those life-saving medications from the manufacturer to the health care providers who administer them to patients. We help pharmaceutical companies develop tomorrow’s therapies; medications that will hopefully make these types of illnesses more manageable. We help insurance companies collaborate with physicians to find better, more cost effective ways to deliver convenient, local, accessible care to patients. And we alleviate many of the burdens physicians place, so they can focus more on patients.
These are tremendous responsibilities and I consider it an honor to lead a team that delivers these services to the marketplace. Because at the end of the day, I know our ability to execute flawlessly ultimately results in a patient getting better care.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Yes, balance is an optical illusion, so I try to achieve equilibrium with regard to physical and mental health. I live in Connecticut, but work in Ohio, while also perpetually being on the road to visit customers. I'm very intimate with the La Guardia airport. I have a few tactics that help: always fly the same airline to get status, use Skype to stay visually connected to loved ones, buy a pair of light weight sneakers so you can exercise, always ask for a quiet hotel room so you can sleep and don’t skip vacation. No one considers you a hero or a role model by skipping your vacation. A European colleague once said to me, “Do as we do: take your holiday to get ideas, not to take a break." Sometimes your best ideas come to you while you are away.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
No. I haven't had that day and I’m fine if it never comes. The only thing that comes close is when I achieved personal financial independence, which everyone should aspire to. If you live below your means, you'll never feel overwhelmed and that is empowering.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Be here now. It's a very simple, but powerful, statement. Whether you are in a meeting, giving a performance review or having dinner with a spouse, be where you are at that moment and in totality.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
One must possess a high adversity quotient and be good with ambiguity, as health care changes constantly. I think an aptitude for data, analysis and a genuine passion for patient care helps.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
You're likely to live to be 75 years of age, have several careers and will find who you are today will be vastly different than the person you will become.
Your health is your most important asset.
Consider all trials and tribulations as part of your journey. Enjoy the journey. It’s so tempting to be fatalistic when you're young. Remember that you will fail along the way and you can reinvent yourself at any point in time.
And max out your 401k, no matter how hard that is for a 21-year-old.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Many more passport stamps. Healthy, happy and not retired.