Now Speaking at #HREV18 – Thomas Sondergeld, VP Global HRIS, Benefits & Mobility – Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc

Please briefly describe your company and its contribution to an innovative and disruptive health, wellness, benefits and/or insurance industry?

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), the only global pharmacy lead company in the world, is the parent company of Walgreens, the nations largest retail pharmacy. Walgreens has been on the forefront in many innovative and disruptive contributions for its customers and the nation. Concepts like “Vitamin Angels” and “Get a Shot, Give a Shot” have provided free vitamins and vaccines to millions of under-served people around the globe. As an employer, Walgreens has been on the cutting edge in delivering innovative healthcare solutions to our employees in solutions like private exchanges, advanced care coordination, value-based benefits, medication therapy management, diabetes management, tele-medicine and other innovative solutions. Walgreens also joined the Health Transformation Alliance as a founding member to work with other employers on disruption and innovation.

How long have you been involved in the industry?

I have been working in employee benefits for 20+ years

How have your previous roles lead you to your current position and where do you see your next big move within your company to serve as an agent of change?

I began my adult career as a respiratory therapist. I walked into Human Resources and Employee Benefits as an opportunity to expand my experience and broaden my career path. After 10 years in the role I took on a role in benefits administration to further expand on my experience. I returned to Human Resources and over the next years grew my knowledge and experience working at large employers including my current leader role at Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent company of Walgreens.

What do you see as the most disruptive innovation in healthcare, benefits, well-being or technology to be today and what do you see around the corner?

I think the most disruptive innovation today is advanced Advocacy or Care Coordination. This innovation provides a health guide for employees and their families to disrupt the delivery of healthcare and control where a seeker of care receives that care. This control guides the member to the lowest cost, best quality care by working directly with the provider, the carrier, the network, the benefit plan and the member. What’s next: I believe employers will demand more aggressive change. This demand will create more disruptive solutions which could include employers banding together to create their own solutions.

What, in your opinion, is the largest obstacle facing employers today? What do you believe is the number one solution (if you had to choose one) to overcome that obstacle? What has your company done to incorporate this solution today? What is your long-term solution to tackle this challenge?

I believe the number one obstacle facing employers today is the old model for delivering benefits. The solution to this is throwing it away and pushing for newer ways to deliver benefits that address the new workforce and disrupt the way healthcare is delivered. Walgreens has innovated in a number or ways, including as an early adopter of the private exchange and now having created a new carrier-based solution to control where and how care is delivered in a high-intensity type of advocacy model. Our long term solution is to continue to innovate.

How do you envision the future of healthcare five years from now? Ten years from now?

This is quite hard to predict. I can hope that in 5 years we would be on our way to a more national healthcare solution and that by 10 years it would be in place and working.

What are three things you do each day to improve your own health and well-being?

Exercise 3 times/week, take moments to myself, and meditate at least once daily

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that you would pass along to others just entering the industry?

Be creative and don’t be afraid to buck the trend.

Do you utilize health and/or wellness apps and if so what are your top three?

I use: MyFitnessPal, Walgreens, and Fooducate.

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