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Michael Biskey: ‘The best answers come from a team’

Michael G. Biskey, president of Express Scripts Canada, is photographed in his Toronto pharmacy on October 6, 2016.


Michael Biskey, 57, is president of Express Scripts Canada, which provides health benefits management services.

How I got the job: I met the former president of Express Scripts Canada, Jean Joubert, while I was a management consultant working on a strategy project in the late 1990s. After that project, he saw me in various other consulting roles. He also called me on occasion for consulting advice, specifically about leveraging technology to support business strategy. He envisioned the value that technology could bring to business strategy so he saw me as a good leader for Express Scripts because of my broad background in business technology, consulting and management. When he decided to retire from Express Scripts, he placed my name on a list of potential candidates to replace him.

The best part of the job is the knowledge that we are making a difference in people's lives because our company is making better health more affordable. We've created innovative solutions for companies that offer drug benefits so they can lower their costs while helping their employees better manage their health. Because I see so much opportunity for positive change in this industry, the worst part of my job is knowing that we can't change everything overnight.

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My colleagues would likely describe my leadership style as thoughtful and collaborative. I'm not the type to jump in and dictate the solution. I listen carefully and respectfully to others because people see things in different ways and have different perspectives. The best solutions almost always come from those individuals or teams that have the deepest understanding of the opportunity or problem.

What I learned in my career: You will ultimately create value for yourself if you find ways to create value for others. It can be as simple as passing along an article or proposing an idea to solve a problem. These actions sometimes help, they certainly strengthen relationships and I believe they pay long-term dividends.

Believe it or not, I had no specific career goal when I was growing up. I was an avid reader and I really enjoyed understanding how things worked. My curiosity and desire to read and learn continues to this day. When I earned my math degree, I never imagined that I would end up working in health care. I started with IBM where I was exposed to a variety of industries and held several different positions in technical support, product support, sales, marketing and management consulting. Eventually, I was appointed to run IBM Canada's consulting business. From there, I left the company to lead Express Scripts Canada.

The drug benefit industry is facing a crisis because employer drug benefit costs are skyrocketing, primarily due to new, high-cost drugs. Unfortunately, drug benefit designs are shifting to place the financial risk on the individuals who often need the most help. These shifts are occurring because employers are concerned about the sustainability of drug benefits.

We differ by leveraging behavioural science, technology and research on big data, we built an innovative drug benefit and pharmacy service for use by employers and the individuals covered in their drug plan. With this service, our pharmacists work directly with the patient, their benefit plan and their doctor to influence better financial and health decisions. This strategy improves medication adherence for patients while lowering drug benefit costs for both the employer and the patient.

Our biggest challenge is making employers aware that such services exist and opening their minds to doing things differently. It's an industry that has changed little over many years. Despite this challenge, our service has grown exponentially over the past few years as more and more employers hear about it. It's exciting because we've created an innovative service that is delivering value, is influencing the industry and could help sustain the drug benefit for the next generation.

Best Advice: An individual can't have all the answers, the best answers come from a team. I firmly believe this because I saw it many times in consulting projects and I've experienced it many times in business. We constantly collaborate in our business because it drives innovation and yields better results.

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As told to Leah Eichler. This interview has been edited and condensed.

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About the Author
Future of Work

Leah Eichler (@LeahEichler) is founder and CEO of r/ally, a mobile collaboration platform for enterprises. More


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