Menu Icon Search
Close Search

20 Questions: Craig S. Stern, RPh, PharmD, MBA

Created November 21, 2010 by Juliet Farmer
Share

Craig S. Stern received his Doctor of Pharmacy and masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California and is a Fellow of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, the American Society Consultant Pharmacists, the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, the International College of Angiology, and the Life Management Institute. He is also a Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California, the University of California at San Francisco, and the Western University of Health Science.

In 1986, Dr. Stern formed Pro Pharma Pharmaceutical Consultants, Inc., independent consultants to multi-hospital corporations, payers, and providers with special emphasis in managed care, specifically the design and management of pharmacy benefits, integration of pharmacy and medical benefits, data analysis, strategic analysis/planning and implementation, and the management of pharmacy risk for provider groups. Prior to that, Dr. Stern was Director of Pharmacy and internal consultant on pharmacy operations and clinical pharmacy programming for Republic Health Corporation.

Why did you choose your specialty?
I chose managed care because it provided me with the opportunity to impact the care of populations of patients. My specific specialty combined data analytics with clinical therapeutics, both of which were passions of mine.

Did you plan to enter your specialty prior to pharmacy school?
NO. I originally majored in theoretical astrophysics. Prior to, and after pharmacy school, I worked in hospitals as a director of pharmacy and as a clinical pharmacist. Managed care only came into the picture when the field was in its infancy in the mid-1980s.

Please describe the type of consulting ProPharma engages in.
Pro Pharma specializes in integrating clinical and financial benefit management, reforming patient care operations consistent with good business and clinical practice; strategic analysis, forecasting and strategic implementation; and management of pharmacy risk and educational intervention with provider groups and integrated health care networks. Pro Pharma assists self-insured and insurance companies with statistical analysis of claims data to identify areas for fraud and abuse by providers, as well as improvement in employee performance, attendance, and wellness.

Describe a typical day at work for you.
A typical day includes a multitude of telephone calls with clients; web conferences discussing the results of data analyses and audits; conference calls with various medical and pharmacy directors about formularies, utilization, and benefit designs; and many internal strategy/planning meetings with Pro Pharma principals and staff.

What led you to found ProPharma?
I wanted to have the freedom to work on projects that interested me and to control my own destiny, while meeting the needs of the healthcare industry.

What do you like most and least about managed care consulting?
What I like the most about managed care consulting is the variety of projects and individuals that we come in contact with. What I like the least is the lack of science involved in the profession even after 34 years.

Where do you see your company in 10 years?
Pro Pharma will have a greater emphasis on web-based products and consulting internationally more than at present.

What advice do you have for pharmacy students?
Explore your many options, follow your passions, and the satisfaction and income will follow.

What would you tell pharmacy students who are interested in managed care consulting?
I tell them to get a broad background with experience in as many areas of practice as possible. I chose to specialize originally in provider groups. This was a largely untouched area and very uncertain. As a result, I would tell pharmacy students to blaze their own paths consistent with the desires, skills, and passions.

If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a pharmacist? (Why or why not? What would you have done instead?)
Yes, I would still become a pharmacist because it has allowed me to live a varied and interesting professional life.

Are you satisfied with your income?
Never, I am always striving to improve Pro Pharma and the impact that we make on improving all of health care. The income is not the primary motivator. It is part of the whole package.

If you took out educational loans, is/was paying them back a strain?
I did not take out loans as I worked throughout school and my parents worked to help pay for my education.

On average: How many hours a week do you work? I work on average 60 to 70 hours a week. How many hours of sleep do you get a night? About 7 hours. How many weeks of vacation do you take per year? Two to three weeks per year.

Do you have a family and do you spend enough time with them?
I do have a family. My wife works at Pro Pharma with me, so I have the unique opportunity of spending time with my wife both professionally and personally. I enjoy spending time with my children, and will soon be a grandfather; although any time is never enough.

In your position now, knowing what you do, what would you say to yourself in 1986, when you founded Pro Pharma?
Prepare for a long, difficult and uncertain road. Managed care was in its infancy when I started, so the outcome of my efforts were uncertain no matter how hard I worked.

From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in healthcare today?
There are many stakeholders in health care and their incentives are frequently not aligned. As a result, health care costs, quality and impact are frequently compromised for commercial purposes.

What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any?
I provide of my time freely for the education of pharmacy students through offering of internships, part-time faculty positions at various schools of pharmacy and a Managed Care Externship rotation offering. I also chair the Editorial Review Committee of the California Pharmacist Journal, which is a monthly commitment to publish a quality journal, and encourage and recruit students to participate as authors and committee members. I am also active in CPhA as a member of the Managed Care Advisory group and in various committees at AMCP. Pro Pharma regularly consults internationally as well.

What’s your favorite TV show?
I used to enjoy Numbers, but now I am thoroughly enjoying Masterpiece Theater-Mystery – Sherlock Holmes.

How do you spend your free time?
I spend my free time with my wife of almost 30 years, reading, exercising, and exploring and traveling to new places.

Any hobbies?
My wife and I share our lives with two precious Bichon Frises (Harley and Atlas) who are AKC champions and the rulers of our domain, and I enjoy swimming, running and walking on the beach.

// Share //

// Recent Articles //

  • Medical, +1 MORE
  • Q&A with Dr. Ali Wong, Plastic Surgery Resident and Creator of Sketchy Medicine

  • Posted October 17, 2017 by Gloria and Chigozie Onwuneme
  • Dr. Ali Wong is a plastic surgery resident in Nova Scotia, Canada and creator of the website Sketchy Medicine, in which she shares graphical representations of various medical concepts. Dr. Wong received her Bachelor of Science with Honours in Neuroscience (2009) and her MD (2013) at Dalhousie University. Following initial year in residency, she went...VIEW >
  • Four Ways to Practice Teaching as a Medical Student

  • Posted October 16, 2017 by Jacob Adney
  • During the first years of medical school, we are taught a huge volume of material, covering basic sciences and organ systems. It is not until our clinical rotations that we truly begin to experience medicine in real time. Over our clinical years, we learn how to become comfortable with patients and help them become comfortable...VIEW >
  • Planning Now for MD Happiness

  • Posted October 13, 2017 by The Short Coat Podcast
  • Can You Plan Now for Happiness Later? Once you’re on the path to doctorhood, it can be hard to step off. You’ll probably be happy…but what if you find out you’d rather just skate? Sure, you’re making money, you’re an important part of the medical profession, you’ve got this under control…but there’s something missing: happiness,...VIEW >
  • Quiz of the Week: Do you recognize this chest abnormality?

  • Posted October 13, 2017 by Figure 1
  • A 30-year-old male presents to his new family physician for a routine physical. He reports being in good health, but has some cosmetic concerns about a chest abnormality he’s had since he was a child. On examination, he has a high-riding left scapula and his left pectoral muscle appears to be absent. Which of the...VIEW >
  • What Medical Schools Are Looking For: Understanding the 15 Core Competencies

  • Posted October 12, 2017 by AAMC Staff
  • When you think about how medical schools will evaluate your application, it can seem like a mystery. What will an admissions committee look at first? How are experiences that are not related to health care viewed or evaluated? How do you explain a personal circumstance that may have led to poor grades during an academic...VIEW >
  • How Do I Know Which Medical School is Right for Me?

  • Posted October 11, 2017 by Cassie Kosarek
  • Receiving multiple admissions offers to medical school can be both thrilling and daunting for prospective medical students. For many applicants, the simple goal is to get into medical school; a scenario in which one has to choose between multiple programs is simply not considered. But for a fraction of admitted medical students, juggling the pros...VIEW >
  • What are Gallstones?

  • Posted October 10, 2017 by Open Osmosis
  • What are gallstones? Gallstones are solid stones that are produced in the gallbladder when there’s an imbalance in the composition of bile. The main types of gallstones are cholesterol stones, bilirubin stones, and brown stones. This video discusses the pathophysiology and known mechanisms of formation for each type of gallstone in the gallbladder, as well...VIEW >

// Forums //