AmerisourceBergen Begins Move to Being Purpose-Driven


Expect changes as AmerisourceBergen transforms itself into a purpose-driven company. The company has long focused on growing community pharmacy, increasing access to patients, and improving the efficiency of its distribution business. Those broad goals have now become part of an explicit purpose: to build healthier futures.

“We are invested in your success,” Steven H. Collis, AmerisourceBergen’s Chairman, President, and CEO, told attendees at ThoughtSpot 2017 in Las Vegas. “And we have recognized that there is so much more we can do to support your success if we work as a purpose-driven organization. Building healthier futures is the lens through which we will evaluate all that we do. Clarity of purpose creates results and will help us remain ahead of the disruptions sweeping our industry.”

The worlds of health care and business have moved into a state of constant disruption, Collis said. The traditional business model-profit at all costs-is no longer the path to success.

As a report from Harvard Business Review Analytics put it, “those companies able to harness the power of purpose to drive performance and profitability enjoy a distinct competitive advantage. Companies who clearly articulate their purpose enjoy higher growth rates and higher levels of success in transformation and innovation initiatives.”

Creating a new business model might be standard operating procedure for companies like Airbnb, Amazon, and Facebook. Creating a clear purpose has also transformed more traditional firms such as Aetna, Becton Dickinson, and Henry Schein. And purpose is already transforming ABC, according to Collis.

“Creating healthy futures depends on the ability to access care,” Collis said. “Community-based care will remain central. People lead healthier lives when they can create trusting relationships with community-based providers, including community pharmacy. Our purpose gives us an incentive to drive affordable, accessible, community-based care.”

ABC’s new purpose is supported by five guiding principles:

  • Put people first. The rest will follow.

  • Be part of the solution 

  • Tell the truth. Tell it fast. 

  • Be bold and stay humble. 

  • Celebrate individuality. Act as a community. 

The key driver in community pharmacy going forward is value, Collis said. Building value requires innovation, improved access to care, and finding ways to make the health-care system work more effectively.

In an industry where 85% of prescriptions are generic, it is not enough to create, distribute, or dispense one more copy of an existing molecule. Clinical and business success depends increasingly on innovation, Collis noted.

“We are thinking a lot about biosimilars, about new generations of medicines that are specific to each individual patient and what it takes for community pharmacies to work with them,” Collis said. “Having more treatment choices is better for patients, better for our Good Neighbor Pharmacy customers, and better for the company.”

Becoming a purpose-drive company began with two AmerisourceBergen board members who were already familiar with the concept. Articulating a purpose and the principles to turn purpose into action started at the top, but it affects the work and lives of all 20,000-plus AmerisourceBergen associates as well as every Good Neighbor Pharmacy customer, he said.

The idea of working with a purpose is particularly important to millennials, who are becoming the largest single generation in the work force and who are moving toward pharmacy ownership in record numbers, he added.

“Our purpose helps us attract and retain great talent and dedicated, driven customers,” Collis explained. “A purpose helps us focus on our foundation and build on. Purpose pushes us to focus on the long term and pay less attention to short-term fluctuations that distract so many companies. And our purpose pushes us to focus on the patient to improve access to care, value, affordability and integrity. We are united in our responsibility to create healthier futures.”

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