In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of Kermit Crawford.
This profile was published in the December, 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
"Our real purpose is not putting pills in a bottle. It's the outcome that you get from adherence to your medication."
As a child, Kermit Crawford knew he wanted to be a pharmacist. He says he looked up to the man who ran the corner drugstore and knew Kermit and his family by name.
"He knew I was Harry Crawford's son, and I grew up saying, 'That's who I want to be,' " says Crawford, adding that his dream was to run his own drugstore someday.
Mission accomplished. As president of Walgreens' pharmacy, health, and wellness division, Crawford runs more than 8,000 drugstores, with sales last fiscal year of more than $72 billion. And they're not just drugstores—there are nearly 400 walk-in clinics integrated into the stores, which can administer healthcare services, such as vaccines, minor acute care, and back-to-school physicals.
Crawford's rise to be a top executive at one of the country's largest companies by revenue started in 1983, as a pharmacy intern at a Walgreens store in Houston. His subsequent roles as pharmacist, store manager, vice president of store operations, as well as his leadership as executive vice president of the company's pharmacy benefit management services gave him a broad view of a pharmacy during a fundamental shift in healthcare. The experience positioned him to transform Walgreens from prescription filler to now filling a void for medically underserved communities.