Name: Patrick Conway
Previous title: CEO of Care Solutions, Optum
New title: CEO, OptumRx
Conway is stepping up as CEO of UnitedHealth pharmacy benefit manager OptumRx effective immediately, according to a Thursday post on the executive’s LinkedIn, as part of a leadership shakeup at the healthcare giant.
Conway is replacing Heather Cianfrocco, who is pivoting to president of Optum. Cianfrocco will lead the division’s pharmacy and care delivery capabilities, per UnitedHealth’s website.
Cianfrocco replaces John Prince as Optum president. Prince has departed the company to serve as a senior advisor to private equity firm TPG, according to his LinkedIn.
A UnitedHealth spokesperson declined to comment on the reason behind the executive changes.
Conway initially joined UnitedHealth’s health services division in 2020 as CEO of Optum’s care solutions unit. As care solutions chief executive, Conway led a portfolio of care delivery businesses with more than $40 billion in annual revenue across acute and post-acute care, in-home and virtual care, mental healthcare and population and complex disease health management, according to his LinkedIn.
Before joining UnitedHealth, Conway had a long career in both the public and private health payment sectors.
Conway joined the CMS in 2011 as the agency’s chief medical officer and also led its innovation agency CMMI, which trials new payment models meant to push the industry toward value, starting in 2013.
Conway’s tenure at the agency, which included a brief stint as acting administrator, lasted through 2017, when he left to become president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Conway was forced to resign from BCBS in 2019, after he was arrested for driving under the influence.
Now, Conway will helm an $110 billion business at OptumRx, one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers in the U.S.
The business has been a notable driver of revenue for UnitedHealth, reporting double-digit growth in year-over-year sales in second quarter results released last month.
OptumRx has focused on adding biosimilars for expensive specialty drugs to its standard drug lists and expanding digital pharmacy tools to attract new clients, according to executive comments.
PBMs, which negotiate pharmaceutical discounts with drugmakers and decide which medications will be covered by health plans, have faced rising criticism over their role in driving up medical costs.
Congress is currently considering multiple pieces of legislation that would police their business practices, including requiring increased transparency, and multiple government entities are investigating the companies.