Women of Influence: Cathy Fuchs

By Kate McCaffery | August 18 2014 09:00AM

Cathy Fuchs

Earning trust is the greatest reward

Personable, loved by her clients, and often sought for her expertise and understanding of both benefits and developing pharmaceutical care, Cathy Fuchs is clearly passionate about making things work better for plan sponsors and their employees.

If you thought the financial services industry had silos, one look at patient care might be enough to make it appear positively cohesive.

The return for participation is considerable. You meet the people you need to know to stay informed and you have access to a higher level of information.

A growing number of chronic illnesses are being treated in Canada today, often with the help of multiple medications, doctors, pharmacists, patient advocacy groups, case managers, and drug distributors. There are so many stakeholders too, that a patient can fall through the cracks altogether, driving costs even higher.

“When you look at the whole process from beginning to end, you notice that it should be better,” she says. “Plan members with illnesses, you really want it to work better for them. It bothers me that it doesn’t. It would be exciting for me to have a hand in that change.”

Drug adherence programs

To that end, her practice includes promotion of pharmaceutical company drug adherence programs – education for employees that includes presentations when needed, and pharmacist involvement. More notable though, is Fuchs’ network, and her work within it.

Fuchs works with insurance company advisory groups, contributes pensions and benefits summits, to the Canadian Leadership Council on drug plan partnerships, and currently participates, by express invitation, on advisory panels with three different pharmaceutical companies.

She is also a planning committee member for the Group Insurance Pharmaceutical Committee – a joint educational initiative between the group insurance and pharmaceutical industries, for the purpose of education and information sharing.

“The return for participation is considerable. You meet the people you need to know to stay informed and you have access to a higher level of information. There is work involved, but you wouldn’t be asked if someone didn’t feel your participation was valuable.”

At least once a year, she also travels to Africa with Hands Across the Nations. “You go for two or three weeks; there are a ton of shots to get. It’s hot. It’s not a vacation, but it is like a reset,” she says. “An annual trip to Mali or Bolivia is good for whatever ails you.”

The practice leader started White Willow in 1990, after leaving a job with benefits, assistants and an expense account. Fifteen years ago, the business had enough established success that her husband of 35 years now, left his own successful career to join the practice as well.

In 2009, Fuchs sold the company to People Corporation. “We were the fourth division to join. I think there are 12 now.” Although the move from a privately held office with 100 client file folders, to a public company where earnings drive most things was stressful, she says “it gave us access to markets we didn’t have before, and it gave us access to tools, services, and value added things that we couldn’t have done on our own.”

Fuchs says she is proud of the business’ growth over 24 years, the reputation it has, and particularly of the long-term relationships she’s maintained over the years. “When someone places their trust in you, year after year, that’s tremendously rewarding.”

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