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Q&A with Tiffany Olson, President, Nuclear Pharmacy Services, Cardinal Health

by Robert Garment, Executive Editor | June 03, 2016
Tiffany Olson
From the June 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Before we get to the more technical questions, we would like to ask you what you think about our industry. What is your analysis after two years on the job at Cardinal Health?
During my tenure in the molecular imaging industry, I’ve been amazed by two key dynamics: the intense passion of the people in our industry, and the critical importance of radiopharmaceuticals that help physicians make diagnoses and direct patient care. I’ve worked in the diagnostics industry for many years, but the difference from my past role is that our Cardinal Health Nuclear Pharmacy Services (NPS) team is so much closer to the patient. In physically delivering prescriptions to hospitals and clinics, our drivers may actually greet patients in waiting areas. This connection means our team is always operating with the patient in the forefront of our mind. Ensuring that the right patient receives precisely the right dose, at exactly the right time, are words we live by.

What I appreciate about our industry is that I see this same dedication throughout the entire value chain — from pharma biotech innovators, all the way to the hospitals and clinics directly providing patient care. I think that patient focus stems from the impact radiopharmaceuticals have in diagnosing and treating some very sick and worried patients. The passion that permeates our industry keeps me energized and excited to work for NPS.

HCB News: The technetium shortage and the blurring of specialties resulted in fewer low-energy tests and more MRI and cardiac ultrasound tests. Do you believe this trend will continue?
In making this decision, the physician first has to consider whether the patient can be diagnosed using a structural (or anatomical) imaging procedure such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound. These tests provide information about the heart structure or abnormalities. However, if the physician is looking for information about how the heart is actually functioning, a nuclear test can help provide those answers. Myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) can show how well blood flows through your heart muscle, and identify if certain areas of the heart muscle aren't getting enough blood flow. So the choice in diagnostic test used should be driven by the question the physician needs to answer.

Additionally, as our health care system evolves, and greater emphasis is placed on quality care, disease prevention and improved patient outcomes, I believe radiopharmaceuticals will have an increasing role. We’re beginning to measure quality of care based on patients experiencing shorter stays, and reducing readmittances. To me, this means the market will eventually be driven to the most sensitive and accurate diagnostic tools available. For instance, accurate diagnosis of coronary artery disease through a single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) MPI study can help avoid an unnecessary, invasive and expensive procedure in a cardiac catheterization lab. Early and accurate detection and monitoring of disease are among the key methods of enhancing the quality of patient care.

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