How to recycle your skills

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Some retired folks play golf all day; others travel. But there's something about healthcare communication execs that makes them not want to quit. Instead of retiring, they start a new career.
(Disclosure: I might be considered one of them. Why else am I writing this column?)
The most recent case in point is the way Ron Pantello had no sooner announced that he was vacating the CEO slot at Euro RSCG Life Worldwide, than he launched Valorx.

Valorx, according to Pantello, partners with pharmaceutical manufacturers as well as other healthcare stakeholders, such as medical schools, professional associations, pharmacy benefit managers and government, in order to develop communications and educational programs designed to improve patient outcomes.

“Valorx is about improving the value of medical care by matching the direction in which healthcare is moving,” Pantello says. “Our services are designed to improve diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of medical conditions not as isolated objectives,  but to provide an increase in value-based medicine.” In working with pharma companies, Valorx focuses not just on usage of specific products, but on ensuring that the products are used in the right patients in the right way as part of an integrated cycle of care. That's in contrast, Pantello explains, to what he sees as current  patterns of care where there is often a disconnect between diagnosis and treatment, and between treatment and follow-up.

To achieve this ambitious objective, Valorx is working with the colleges of medicine of the University of South Florida and of Drexel University, the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Society, and the Diabetes Consortium. They are organizing patient behavior modification systems and producing CME programs that emphasize measurable quality improvement and knowledge translation that results in physician behavior change.

An altogether different approach is that of  George Naimark, who has put together a panel of retired senior healthcare corporate execs whose expertise is available to pharma, biotech and device companies, as well as agencies, on an “as-needed” basis.

After a lifetime career of heading his own agency, Naimark essentially asked himself:
if industry uses rent-a-reps when demand stretches internal resources, why not a high-powered rent-a-board? Among the experts he recruited are Jack Bowman, who retired as company group chairman of Johnson & Johnson; Paul Creager, former group president of Becton-Dickinson; Irwin Lerner, ex-chair and CEO of Hoffman-La Roche;  and Ronald Saldarini, formerly Vaccines & Pediatrics president at Wyeth-Lederle, plus six other high-powered industry alumni. 

“Typical consultants can be fine,” Naimark points out, “but they have never walked in the shoes of senior executives, never had the responsibility for cash flow, ROI, or survival…and probably have never faced a board or a shareholder meeting. Our group of private healthcare consultants have met all these responsibilities. Now they are available to share their many years of varied experience with our clients.”

So if you're wondering about life after retirement, let these models encourage and inspire you. Worst case, you could be a columnist.

Warren Ross is MM&M's editor at large

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