PBM improvement: That's all, Foulkes

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT The news that Helena Foulkes will lead PBM product innovation and marketing at CVS Caremark is important, as Foulkes, the ExtraCare architect, is widely regarded as one of the most visionary marketers in modern drug store retailing.

(THE NEWS: Foulkes to lead PBM product innovation, marketing at CVS Caremark. For the full story, click here)

The company has one of the largest and most successful retail loyalty card programs in the country with more than 64 million active ExtraCare cardholders. Now Foulkes is bringing her considerable talents and creative vision to a side of the business that, executives have admitted, could benefit from a stronger, clearer message to payers.

Aside from generating total revenues that rose 13% to a record $98.7 billion in 2009 and income from continuing operations that climbed nearly 11% to $3.7 billion, several highlights fiscal 2009 included — but certainly was not limited to — the repositioning of its sales message to focus first on its PBM capabilities. As reported by Drug Store News in late 2009, CVS Caremark acknowledged a need to fine-tune its messaging to the payer community.

"Our message early on was not clear, to be honest. It was not simple for benefit managers to understand," CVS Caremark chairman, president and CEO Tom Ryan had told analysts during an earnings call. "It focused a little too much on the retail side of the business as opposed to a coordinated effort."

The story may have resonated with CEOs in the corner offices of many of the companies CVS Caremark was pitching its integrated model to, but for the human resources execs and benefit managers who make key decisions around plan design, the larger message was getting lost in translation.

Based on Foulkes’ track record, you would have to say she is more than up to the task.

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