August 6, 2020 Amy Swanson

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work – Manufacturer Relations Team Welcomes Zach Russell

The Excelera Manufacturer Relations team partners with various manufacturers, biopharma and life science partners to provide access to Excelera member health systems and senior leaders in specialty pharmacy, insights into the patient journey using our complex pharmacy patient data and to help optimize performance at various stages of the specialty product lifecycle.

As the Excelera Network has grown, so has interest from manufacturer partners in our nationwide network of health systems and market access programs that enable drug manufacturers to reach the providers, pharmacies and patients critical to product success. This significant growth has also driven the expansion of the Manufacturer Relations team to include an additional resource to manage pharmaceutical accounts. This important role has a direct impact on our programs and relationships with manufacturers, and prompted us to ask our resident expert what it takes to be successful in this role.

Impacts, Successes of Programs/Relationships

A diverse offering of manufacturer programs has allowed Excelera members to demonstrate their performance through data as well as care for their complex patients through access to limited distribution drug (LDD) products. Since early programs allowed for a “proof of concept”, this enabled later growth in the number and depth of our manufacturer relationships. As the Excelera Network has grown, so have our manufacturer relationships – this synergy contributes to the overall growth of our business and creates value for all partners involved.

“Having been involved with our manufacturer partner programs from very early on until now, it has been extremely rewarding to see how the role, programs and relationships have expanded and evolved,” said Jami Schell, PharmD, CSP. “I really enjoy being able to work with a variety of stakeholders to identify gaps or business needs and connect that with solutions available. Being involved in the process from initial conversations through pull through of a contract (and beyond) has allowed me to develop a more robust understanding of our business as well as that of our partners, both members and manufacturers.”

According to Dr. Schell, managing pharmaceutical accounts requires a mix of skills including relationship building, project management, creative thinking and most importantly, partnership. This role acts as a bridge between members and manufacturers, educating about health system specialty pharmacy, aligning health system solutions and capabilities with manufacturers’ gaps and needs and establishing the value of working with Excelera for health system strategy and insights to create value for multiple stakeholders.

A New and Valuable Perspective

The newest member of the team is Zach Russell, who is moving from a previous role on the Network Operations team onto the Manufacturer Relations team. While his move illustrates the career development opportunities available to Excelera team members, it also provides a new and valuable perspective to the Manufacturer Relations team as they leverage Dr. Russell’s 5 years working directly with Excelera members and their pharmacy operations.

“Working directly with Excelera members to build and expand their specialty pharmacy services over the last few years has allowed me an intimate understanding of the unique opportunities for individualized patient focused care and challenges that continue to exist within health system specialty pharmacy,” said Zach Russell, PharmD, CSP. “My knowledge and strong pharmacy relationships will enable our Manufacturer Relations team to expand partnerships in new and exciting ways, bridging gaps and creating mutually valuable opportunities for both health systems and our manufacturer partners.”

For more information about the Manufacturer Relations team, visit or contact