In case you missed out on the Imerman Angel’s Annual Tuxes and Tee’s Fundraiser or are curious as to what took place during the VIP hours of the evening, have a look at this inspirational speech given by our newest member of the Board of Directors, Nimesh Jhaveri. He is the executive director of pharmacy and healthcare experience of Walgreens and is the holder of four federal patents in pharmacy technology and methodology. Nimesh has also played an integral role in Walgreen’s new corporate sponsorship with Imerman Angels. We cannot thank him enough for his support and are very excited to have him on board!
It is an amazing honor to be here … to welcome all of you … and to thank all of you for supporting
Imerman’s Angels – past, present and we hope, in the future. Most of all, it’s a great honor to join in paying tribute to our cancer fighters, survivors, caregivers and supporters.
The late Italian writer, actor and director Luciano De Crescenzo … pardon my Italian … once expressed an insight about angels. And what he said has special meaning for me tonight. He said, “We are each of us angels with only one wing. And we can only fly by embracing one another.” [repeat for emphasis] … We can only fly by embracing one another …. What a beautiful way of looking at life – and all of its challenges – and all of the chances that life brings to fly together.
That’s the whole point of Imerman’s Angels, of course. The incredible power of one-on-one. It’s also something that I think about a lot in my profession. As a pharmacist, like most healthcare professionals, I was trained in medicine. But I was also fortunate to have professors and colleagues who emphasized the power of one-on-one. You can call it “bedside manner.” Or if you’re a healthcare systems consultant, you can call it “optimal human engagement leveraging emotional intelligence.” Or something like that. Whatever you call it, the value of embracing one another in healthcare and recovery is hard to quantify.
That’s a problem in today’s healthcare system, when everyone is trying to put a cost-benefit analysis on everything. That makes sense when healthcare needs and costs continue to balloon.
But what’s the dollar value when someone is there for you? I mean, really THERE for you. Someone who listens to you … hears you … “gets” you … gets your pain … gets your fear … or even just knows when to leave you alone. Because sometimes even angels don’t feel like flying. The point is, even though it’s hard to quantify the value of the one-on-one, that does not mean it lacks value. Sometimes you can’t put a price on something simply because it’s priceless.
To press the point, let me read from an article posted by an association of physician’s assistants. … As a sidebar, let me say, in my humble view, physician’s assistants are the unsung heroes of the medical profession. … They’re the healthcare providers that my company, Walgreens, is anxiously counting on to help us deliver convenient and affordable community healthcare.
… And I know, first hand, from working with these women and men, they are – excuse my language – freaking amazing people. No ego. All care. Pure angels. I’m generalizing, but it’s true. Their article is titled, “The Psychological Importance of Bedside Manner, Trust, and Teamwork.” It’s from July of this year. It says:
“Technology is changing the world of medicine in drastic ways every day. New diagnostic tools, laser therapies, and an ever-increasing arsenal of pharmaceuticals help doctors deliver innovative answers to age-old problems. But some old-fashioned values are becoming lost in the mix of modern technology, especially bedside manner, trust, and teamwork. The human touch has profound psychological value to a patient, especially someone suffering from an acute or terminal condition. While modern tools can monitor his condition and advanced therapies offer a patient more hope than ever, patients today feel increasingly lost in the healthcare system. A good bedside manner, trust, and teamwork encourage the patient to interact with those taking care of him, and increase participation in his own care.”
I agree. And my company, Walgreens, takes that concept to heart. It’s what our pharmacies are all about. The
human interaction. In fact, in our cutting-edge Well Experience stores, we’ve moved the pharmacist out from behind the
counter, out into the store, to engage patients, in person, on their healthcare needs. One on one.
It reminds me of that old Seinfeld routine, where he says, “Why does that pharmacist have to be two and a half feet higher than everybody else? Who the hell is this guy?” Good question. So we’re breaking down the pharmacy wall and putting the pharmacist out in the store. You can see for yourself at our flagship stores over on State and Randolph or in Bucktown. There’s a simple reason why Walgreens embraces the power of the one-on-one in healthcare. And why we’re fighting the notion by some bean-counters that community pharmacies can be replaced by robots putting pills in bottles and sending them through the mail.
Why are we so hot about the one-on-one? Once again – human interaction leads to better care. Let me illustrate by looking at “medication adherence” – the term we use for whether people follow their prescriptions as directed. So they can get better. Live better. Or live longer. You’d be amazed by how many otherwise responsible people don’t take their medicine. In fact, medication NON-adherence costs the healthcare system almost three billion dollars a year in needless services. That includes the cost of people going to the hospital or emergency room. That’s three billion dollars wasted because people did not take their medicine. And that’s wasted money we can recover … and harness to deliver more care to more people … if we could just get people to get on track and stay on track.
Sure, we can fire-hose people with information about their healthcare needs, options, and care choices. We can email them. Snail-mail them. Send them to our websites. Leave them voice mails. Text them. We have all kinds of ways now to contact patients to remind them to take their pills. We do it all. But nothing – nothing – beats the old one-on-one. Nothing beats the human interaction with the pharmacist to promote adherence.
Let me give you one proof point. Walgreens recently sponsored a study to learn about what happens when people DO take their medicine. We looked at statin-takers – you know, people with high cholesterol who can lower their chance of heart attack or stroke if they just take a little white pill every day with breakfast. We found that new statin-takers who had face-to-face counseling with their pharmacist about their regimen increased their adherence by more than a 7 percent. Compared to patients without one-on-one counseling.
Now, 7 percent might not sound like a lot. But if your 401K had been returning 7 percent a year for the past 10 years, you would be pretty happy about that, right? We’re lucky if we get half that. So when it comes to the power of one-on-one … the power of personal connection and interaction …even if it’s hard to quantify … maybe the healthcare system is catching up to a concept that Imerman’s Angels has known all along. And you’re built on. That’s a big reason why Walgreens supports Imerman’s Angels. Our missions dovetail perfectly. Yes, like you, Walgreens also wants people to get well. Stay well. And live well. Yes, like you, we also help cancer fighters and caregivers, through our growing in-home infusion services. Yes, like you, we stand with the thousands of cancer fighters and survivors and supporters on the Walgreens team across the country. Our team is almost a quarter of a million people. Probably over a million when you count family members. And yes, like all of you, we want to help cancer fighters become survivors. And help cancer survivors help other fighters. We believe in the concept of the “virtuous circle.” And we’re working on programs to help cancer survivors to become “angels” for other cancer fighters.
So Walgreens finds it a privilege to be a corporate sponsor of Imerman’s Angels. And it’s a point of humble pride for me to have the chance to serve on the Board of Directors. Rest assured: Walgreens will be promoting the service you provide to our patients and customers in the near future. And we could not be happier to provide this support. That’s because our whole company … our bone-marrow ethos for more than 100 years … and our purpose, vision and mission to this day … have been founded on – we’re driven by – a sense that we all fly by embracing one another.
To close on that note, let me share a fun factoid. Today, September 28, is the birthday of Paul Villard, the French chemist and physicist. He was born on this day in the year 1860. Doctor Villard gets a lot of credit for discovering the gamma ray in 1900.
He discovered this new force of nature as he was messing around with atoms and particles and other nuclear stuff. Stuff I don’t remember from my physics classes. But if you Google it, you see that gamma rays have given us incredible breakthroughs in cancer treatment. Cancer doctors have used gamma rays to kill bad cells before they kill us. And if you’ve had surgery, gamma rays might have sterilized the scalpel your surgeon used to cut you open and fix your problem. Doctor Villard, naturally, didn’t know he would save millions of lives with his discovery. But that’s not the best part of the story. The best part is that Doctor Villard was pretty modest, especially by today’s standards. He didn’t call his discovery the “Villard Ray.” Later on, it was another physicist, Ernest Rutherford, who suggested the name “gamma ray.” The new ray was more penetrating than alpha rays and beta rays. Alpha and beta were the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. Gamma was the third. There you go – “gamma ray.”
The point is that Doctor Villard, who discovered amazing new force of nature, didn’t make his discovery about himself.
He didn’t seem to care about being famous. He just seemed to care about advancing human discovery. And he did. He sounds pretty much like an angel to me. All of you here are angels. All of you give more than you want credit for. And we’re all here because we believe that science and medicine are unstoppable forces. Forces that give from humankind. For humankind. But only because of angels like you. In my humble aspiration, I hope that we can continue to fly together, as angels do, by embracing one another. Here tonight. And as long as we live.
Thank you. Oh – and one more thing. Please – if you have a prescription – please take it as directed!
Have a great evening.