Chairman, Chief Executive Officer
For more than 45 years, George Salem has dedicated his career to solving problems in the health care sector. Before launching ProxsysRx in 2014, he founded, and sold, four successful companies:
- A health plan that had a significant, positive impact on improving the delivery and coverage of healthcare for patients in Alabama.
- A Managed Care company that was awarded the prestigious John S. Jemison Venture Award from the Birmingham Venture Club.
- A Medical Staffing agency that was purchased by a private Philadelphia Based healthcare staffing organization.
- A Hospital Revenue Cycle company that was bought by Athena Health, and was also awarded a second prestigious John H. Jemison Venture award.
Having also served as VP of Ambulatory Operations for Methodist Hospitals of Memphis, George understands, from first-hand experience, the challenges health systems face in pursuing their mission of delivering the best possible care to patients and their families — while, at the same time, generating the revenues necessary to keep the proverbial doors open.
It’s a challenge, he believes, that’s become all-but impossible, at least for hospitals still operating under outdated business models, given the current environment.
“When I started in health care, Medicare was 17 to 20% of the spend, and Medicaid was 10%. Now, Medicare is 47% and Medicaid is 30%. Worse still, on average, hospitals collect 31% on every dollar they bill. Without introducing significant innovations into your business practices, you cannot remain financially viable in that environment and still support the significant capital requirements of operating a health system.
“Patients today are feeling equally squeezed, given ever-increasing insurance premiums — coupled with outrageous deductibles — which, for many individuals, placed routine preventive health care services beyond their ability to pay. Resulting, far too often, in the kinds of health care emergencies that cost them, and the system, exponentially more than those routine preventive services.”
All of which led George to create ProxsysRx: To help health systems dramatically improve patient outcomes and satisfaction — while significantly increasing revenue and savings — by integrating pharmacy into the continuum of care.
“This company is about so much more than making money. In the healthcare sector, you can have a wildly profitable company that does nothing but leech off the system — or you can be an agent for change. We’re here to make a difference.”
Chief Operating Officer
Billy Calhoun’s career is a virtual mirror-image of ProxsysRx’s business model, which makes him the perfect partner in identifying the global needs of the health systems we serve, then developing strategies to meet those needs.
Patient-focused, consultive pharmacy
While still in college, he worked at an independent pharmacy that served patients on a consultative basis. “It was built like a doctor's office, with a lobby, a waiting room and counseling rooms in the back.
“We served a lot of Medicaid and indigent patients, and managed a lot of home infusion cases. It was highly advanced for its time (early to mid-90s), and it really sharpened my professional focus on meeting patient needs in combination with their medication protocols.”
Billy then spent 4 ½ years as Pharmacist In Charge at a large-chain retail pharmacy, writing up to 450 scripts per day. “That experience taught me so much about the challenges physicians face in meeting patient needs — from insurance issues to the affordability gaps so many people face face in getting the medications they need.”
Far-reaching health system innovations
At his next career stop, as Outpatient Retail Pharmacy Director of Virginia’s 5-hospital Valley Health system, Billy combined all his experience in working with the hospitals’ nursing teams and transitional care teams — as well as its doctors and patients.
“They had one large hospital, one community hospital, three critical access hospitals, several urgent care centers and a medical transport group. So I gained invaluable experience in understanding all different kinds of hospitals.
“And here’s what was so unique about what we were doing: The retail pharmacy was owned by the hospital, which was non-profit, but we took a for-profit, proprietary approach to developing innovative pharmacy services.
“In 2009, we developed one of the first Meds To Beds programs in the country, and one of the most successful. What we learned with that program, very quickly, is that you can't just use nurses to maintain a program like that. You have to put people and resources on the floor to serve and relieve your nurses. We devoted the necessary resources to Meds To Beds, which is why it was such a success for Valley Health.”
After that, Billy’s team built a transitional care program, ensuring outpatients followed prescription protocols after they were discharged.
“Nearly everything we did centered around putting patients first. We focused on meeting needs, without cutting program costs, and all of our solutions improved care and made money. In part, because we had such a positive impact in reducing readmissions.”
Billy’s team even launched a successful employee pharmacy program. “We had a PBM that was not delivering a net benefit to the health system, and I saw an opportunity.” Again, the program improved the level of care for employees while positively impacting Valley Health’s bottom line.
When Billy became the director overseeing other pharmacies in the system, he led the development of the 340B program for its critical access hospitals. All of which is why he was such an ideal fit for ProxsysRx.
Working with ProxsysRx
“Today, my main responsibility is ensuring that the pharmacies we own and/or manage are operating correctly. We're constantly seeking new opportunities to align ourselves with the health systems we serve.” And while he primarily focuses his efforts on high level strategy, he regularly works closely with his brother Marc (ProxsysRx’s Chief Strategy Officer) on operational needs.
“I work on the front end with all new clients, communicating with hospital leadership about their needs and objectives in relation to pharmacy. Together, we explore important questions like, ‘What are your 340B opportunities, what's your employee plan going to look like, and how can ProxsysRx align its operations to meet your health system’s needs?’
“At the same time, I also get into the weeds — planning everything from Meds To Beds and staffing needs to technology for pharmacy processes and workflow. I work with team leaders on on implementation, and developing timelines for getting new pharmacies up and running.
“I joined ProxsysRx because I saw a unique opportunity to do something special in healthcare, and I'm very proud of what we're doing. And yes, I know it sounds cliché, but I sincerely believe we have the best people in the world here.”
Chief Financial Officer
While Thomas Nelson’s professional background is in high-finance, healthcare is in his blood — having been raised in a household where both parents worked in the sector. It’s a background that has served ProxsysRx, and our clients, very well.
“To put things into context, my background in finance was in M&A and deal making. In my twenties, I was developing investment and banking products for Fortune 500 companies — often working directly with CEO and CFOs.
“What's the benefit to our clients today? If you want to understand how private-sector organizations work from a financial perspective, there is no better training ground. It’s given me the ability to take metrics and turn them into useful insights — to look at everything that's happened in our clients’ organizations, then help them pivot to become better companies.
“My objective is to help clients manage, and guide, their financial wellbeing. In health care, you can be a successful operation, and still not be financially successful. The operational and the clinical sides have to work together. At the same time, experience has taught me that pursuing short-term benefits often results in a long-term detriment.
My perspective, and my strength, is at the Enterprise level. My job is to keep an eye on the global perspective. I’m not an Operations person. Fortunately, we have people who are great at that.
“It goes without saying that Operations people are critically important to maintaining success in healthcare, but there's a balance. And when a health system isn't generating enough revenue to pursue its mission, neither the hospital nor the patient is served.
“}No one individual makes an organization successful. It takes everyone working together, and that’s where my experience — coupled with the skills and experience of my team — genuinely benefits ProxsysRx, and the clients we serve.”
Chief Strategy Officer
Marc Calhoun was two years into his pharmacy career when he enrolled in a finance class, and found his calling in the profession.
“Since then, I've been focused on the business of pharmacy: Particularly on how costs impact health care organizations, and what you can do to impact costs — as well as patient outcomes.” Calhoun credits much of his business approach to the years he spent with Cardinal Health — 1998 to 2005. “At the time, they were one of the few companies that offered health system pharmacy programs that could actually track and decrease costs all the way down to the patient level.”
Marc is more than just a believer in the importance of sound business practices. As an Adjunct Professor at Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy since 2008, he actively shares his skills and experience with the next generation of pharmacists.
“Given the amount of information that students have learn about the medical side of pharmacy, it’s difficult for pharmacy schools to include the king business training needed to run a pharmacy in their curricula. After graduation, if you’re hired by a chain, you probably won't get exposure to the way business works financially. You’ll learn a more about the business if you’re at an independent pharmacy, but then you probably won't be exposed to how health systems work.”
Marc’s career focus on pharmacy business led him progressively up the ladder from small community hospitals to progressively larger health systems. When he became Pharmacy Director at Birmingham’s Baptist Princeton Hospital, he worked at the system level for four years. He then spent the next four years at the administrative level, as Assistant Administrator to the CEO — during which time he oversaw the efforts of some 500 employees in multiple departments.
Marc’s professional achievements ultimately caught the attention of George Salem in 2013. “He needed someone with my background. We met, he shared his vision for the company he wanted to build, and in short order I joined ProxsysRx as its third employee.
“George’s vision of a company that could integrate pharmacy into the continuum of care touched so many areas I’d worked-in over the years: Improving institutional and retail pharmacy financials. Creating financially-based clinical outcome programs. Lowering patient medication costs. Bedside Delivery. Transitional patient care initiatives. And PBM relationships.”
What Marc offers clients today is an equally deep and broad range of expertise — both in healthcare and business. “My team and I work closely with our partners to understand their needs at every level. We understand the issues their systems face, and we know how pharmacy can impact outcomes and revenues.”
Marc takes particular pride in one key component of ProxsysRx’s business model: “We're the first company to invest in, and own, our pharmacies. A lot of companies have ‘consultants,’ who charge hospitals to manage their pharmacies whether they make money or not. Our approach applies to every service ProxsysRx offers: We share risks with our clients. And at the proverbial 30,000-foot level, the biggest problem hospitals face today is risk.
“Nothing gives me more job satisfaction than helping health systems apply our expertise, our processes, our people and our software to benefit themselves — and their patients — while, at the same time, keeping one step ahead of the market.”
Chief Development Officer
Throughout three decades in healthcare, Micah Russell has focused his career on the development of product lines that equally benefit health systems and the patients they serve. For the clients ProxsysRx serves, be also offers invaluable experience working with hospitals and pharmacies — as well as in physician practice management.
In short, Micah offers health systems a unique skill set for improving patient care and revenues.
“In the late ‘90s, when managed care began expanding throughout the country and HMOs began driving the need for efficiency in healthcare, I worked closely with hospital and physician organizations to introduce quality improvements, and better compete in the new environment. Together, we implemented successful programs that lowered costs and created pricing consistency within their service lines. Payers loved it because it minimized the cost variations.
“All of those efforts were highly similar to the value-based focus driving healthcare today.
“When I later transitioned into pharmacy development and management within a health system, I saw how PBMs had begun to control revenue streams in the pharmacy environment. That's when it became clear to me that Pharmacy could significantly contribute to a health system’s mission by positively impacting revenues and outcomes.”
At ProxsysRx, Micah focuses his efforts on identifying, developing and deploying pharmacy solutions that help hospitals and physician better perform in a value-based health care environment.
“So much of what we do is still new to the health system as a whole, which is why I understand the skepticism we routinely encounter. But experience has proven, time and again, that our solutions will improve outcomes, increase revenues and decreases costs — ultimately serving health systems and their patients.”
Vice President, Operations and Services
You might say that Heather Brooks’ first job in healthcare, at the age of 15, set the tone for the focus of her career in pharmacy — as well as her work with ProxsysRx’s clients. “I helped patients with everything from scheduling appointments and check-out to insurance billing and pharmacy needs. Today, I help health systems identify and capture every possible opportunity to ensure better patient experiences and outcomes.”
A registered pharmacist who’s also married to a registered pharmacist, Heather has worked as a managing retail pharmacist, a hospital Director of Pharmacy, and co-owner / manager (with her husband) of an IV pharmacy.
Heather’s experience as managing pharmacist for 3 regional pharmacy chains gave her broad exposure to pharmacy operations, but her leadership position — as Clinical Field Coordinator of a Southeastern-based pharmacy chain — sharpened her skill for improving clinical and value-based measures in retail. “An important part of my role was training pharmacists and physicians to incorporate those techniques into their daily workflows.”
Promoted to district manager of pharmacies throughout Alabama, she then supported operations in everything from new pharmacy openings, closings and acquisitions to managing compliance and pharmacy teams while controlling expenses.
After a brief period as a pharmacist for a Birmingham-area hospital’s inpatient pharmacy, Heather says, ”I wanted to be somewhere I could help more people.” Which made the role she plays at ProxsysRx a perfect fit.
Heather’s been with us since 2018. She applies her operations expertise to the management and support of pharmacies and teams at each facility, while — at the same time — helping health systems through a variety of strategic initiatives.
“Working on strategy and operations with our clients, my ProxsysRx team is increasingly focused on health systems’ 340B programs — where we can use our software’s analytics to optimize savings, while still maintaining compliance. We help clients navigate the changing 340B landscape. We help them capture opportunities they've missed. We help them improve the patient experience and patient outcomes. My goal with every client, and my favorite thing to do, is to positively impact the bottom lines of the health systems we serve.
“Ultimately, what we’re doing strengthens health systems in today’s environment — where they’re challenged with reimbursement at every turn. The margins for hospitals today are impossibly slim, and when we can help clients enhance revenues through 340B and retail pharmacy operations, they're better able to create and support services that improve patient outcomes and satisfaction. That gives me a lot of satisfaction, knowing that what we’re doing really does make a difference.”
Vice President of Growth
Howard’s role is to identify and attract new ProxsysRx clients — a job for which his experience and skills are uniquely suited. “Nearly everything I’ve done in healthcare has focused on improving patients’ experience and outcomes while positively impacting hospital revenue. My first position was managing pre-registration and preauthorization teams for health systems.”
Howard’s service to hospitals includes a wealth of hands-on experience. “I spent two years on the road, working on-site with hospitals. I helped their health care teams get patients pre-registered before their procedures. I spoke directly with patients — making them aware of any payments they might need to make before their procedures. I worked on insurance pre-authorizations, and made sure the documentation was complete — so that insurers would pay without holding-up or hassling patients.
“I’ve learned the financial side of healthcare from the ground up. I understand how insurance payments work. And employee benefits. I deeply understand the Hospital Revenue Cycle. Cash collections. Insurance collections. How to increase margins and income.
“I joined ProxsysRx because I saw an opportunity to positively impact hospitals’ financial performance and perception, while improving patient satisfaction and clinical wellbeing.”
All of which, combined, makes for a solid foundation for building healthy relationships with the health systems we serve. “What attracted me most to ProxsysRx is something that George Salem reminds us routinely: This company is about so much more than making money. We’re here to make a difference for the health systems we serve. That’s why I’m here”
Vice President of Accounting
Casey Denson’s 20+-year career includes both public and private accounting, as well as audit and tax work. During that time, she’s served clients in a variety of industries — from healthcare to retail. It’s a breadth of experience that enables her to communicate in the language our CFO clients appreciate.
“The value I bring to our hospital partners is, they want to understand how they can use our services to be more profitable. I can interact meaningfully with people at all levels of a health system, and in all departments. At the same time, my skill set enables me to understand the nuts and bolts of their accounting needs, and what's important to them.”
She’s also the perfect complement to ProxsysRx CFO Thomas Nelson. “He's the big picture, M&A type — whereas I'm more focused on the technical accounting aspects of each client’s needs.”
One area of particular pride for Casey is her team’s ability to help health systems effectively coordinate accounting processes among various departments. “Hospitals often operate in silos, with finance separated from operations— and both doing their own thing with no communication between the two. We’ve been consistently successful in developing innovative solutions and reporting methods for bridging the gaps that exist between processes.
“With the constant exposure I get to new and exciting challenges, I’ve grown exponentially as a professional since I joined ProxsysRx. Every new partner we serve offers a new opportunity to dig into their needs — learning the nuances of their locations, operations and processes — and then come-up with the best ways to meet those needs.”