… what the new normal will be when it comes to seeing how efficient we could be by telecommuting and operating in a virtual world in all industries, prior to COVID-19. Video conferencing for education or work, I think this will become more the norm and in-person meetings will be less typical. Some of us are used to telecommuting and using digital platforms, we’ve been doing it for 20 years, but I think that has changed for everyone else and will become permanent.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Randy Parker.
Randy Parker is the founder & CEO of Genius RX, a full-service digital pharmacy that simplifies the process of managing medications through a combination of convenient packaging, modern technology, and personalized service. He brings more than 30 years of experience starting and building successful, disruptive, consumer-focused companies using the latest technologies. Previously, Randy was CEO of the telemedicine company MDLIVE from 2009 to 2016 where he has established deep industry relationships at the highest levels with a broad range of the country’s premier health organizations. Prior to MDLIVE, he served as CEO of several other companies including Flexplay Technologies, Clear-Vu Products, and Entertainment Resource. Randy has a degree in Business and Public Administration from New York University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
My career journey has always focused on looking at and solving big problems with technology-driven disruptions. My career started in the entertainment space when I worked as the projectionist in my high school, back when the only way to watch movies was in a movie theater.
At the time, there was no Netflix and the movie studios themselves did not see the Betamax Recorder as a way to watch a film. But I saw an opportunity to give consumers the ability to watch movies anywhere and everywhere. I spent about a year working to get a major studio to see the possibility of people watching movies anywhere and ultimately was able to build a large career of over 20 years touching each bit of transformation, change of format and business model.
Then I decided to disrupt healthcare. I had no formal training in healthcare but I had the real-world experience of taking my sons to the pediatrician’s office with my wife. I decided that I was going to fix the broken healthcare customer service model and launched MDLIVE in 2006. MDLIVE is now one of the nation’s largest telehealth providers with over 40,000,000 members.
I learned that it is critical to make it more convenient for patients to connect with healthcare providers through telehealth. Pharmacies are still forcing patients to physically visit the brick and mortar stores. That is a horrible customer experience because you have to travel to a physical pharmacy, you don’t know the cost of the medication, or even if they were going to have it in stock. This led me to think that my third significant disruption was going to be to reinventing the pharmacy experience with the birth of GeniusRx, the platform that we just launched.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There are two books that made the most impact on me. The first is The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. This book showed how we can communicate and engage ourselves on a global basis. Applied to the pharmacy world, I was driven by the lack of relationships we have with our pharmacists and our providers. At best we see our provider a couple of times a year for a couple of minutes. They know nothing about us and we know very little about them. With how big national pharmacy chains have become, being more centralized, personal relationships don’t exist.
The second book which has impacted me is Unscaled by Hemant Taneja. This book describes the forces that are reshaping businesses and society from 50 years ago to today. This book resonates with the fact that companies like GeniusRx can leverage existing infrastructure and be able to use technology and innovation to compete against global companies. In the past, we could have never done that, but today we believe not only can we be competitive in many ways, but we have advantages that they don’t because we can be agile. We are able to scale without decades of investment.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
The first one is the silver lining of the well-needed change of behavior that humans have had to have around how they think about health and wellness.
The second is realizing how important and powerful digital health services can be to the average consumer, whether it be telehealth, access to physicians at MDLIVE or the ability to deliver medication to the home with a service such as GeniusRx. This change of behavior is happening in several industries, but certainly in the digital health space and the digital pharmacy space. This change is going to live on way past coronavirus and we see that happening in the utilization of these platforms. We’re even seeing the president of the United States and more recently, governors across the country, recommending the use of digital health services instead of physical services, except where required. This is something three months ago we would have never thought would be possible.
The third is all the collaboration that’s happening around solving a world problem by aligning the smartest people in science, medicine, and technology. Companies are announcing that they are possibly going to create a vaccine, go through clinical trials and get FDA clearance on coronavirus. If that happens it will be wonderful to have it completed in a mere 18 months. Typically, the approval process can take three to five years, which shows the power of how we can work together around that as one world.
The fourth is in what the new normal will be when it comes to seeing how efficient we could be by telecommuting and operating in a virtual world in all industries, prior to COVID-19. Video conferencing for education or work, I think this will become more the norm and in-person meetings will be less typical. Some of us are used to telecommuting and using digital platforms, we’ve been doing it for 20 years, but I think that has changed for everyone else and will become permanent.
Lastly, from a pharmacy perspective, we can address misinformation as it gets distributed. During this pandemic, patients are looking for miracle solutions and we are seeing an increasing amount of intake calls about certain medications, including hydroxychloroquine. The pharmacy boards quickly said that many of these drugs have a lot of risk involved. We cannot prescribe these drugs for inappropriate uses or before the completion of clinical trials, without the providers’ recommendation.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Andrew Grove said, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.” In this environment of coronavirus pandemic, we’re seeing which companies can react well to a crisis and become better because of it. You’ll see many companies, small and large, that won’t survive and it’s because they’re not positioning themselves to address new opportunities that are created. Post coronavirus, I believe it will become paramount that services deliver efficiency and be able to pivot and adapt. It’s going to be the new norm in our world where people don’t want to go to retail stores to pick up their prescriptions and would prefer to have it delivered to their home.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start a movement to make medications available to all Americans that can’t afford it. The cost of the medications, specifically for generics for chronic diseases, cost pennies. But because of the layers of middlemen, there are enormous additional added costs. I would like to be able to provide healthy food and medication to everyone who needs it.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
You can follow me on Twitter @genius_rx or on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/randy-parker-01452228/.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!