Featured Leader: Ken Clark

Clark’s Foresight Challenges ProfessionKen Clark

Ken Clark may not know author Richard Bach, but he’s spent his life adhering to his philosophy: Ask yourself the secret of your success. Listen to your answer, and practice it.

For a career that has spanned nearly three decades, the secret to Clark’s success has been simple: He helps. Every day he strives to make a difference in the lives of the people whose prescriptions he administers.

At Coborn’s Pharmacy in New Prague, Minn., he has numerous opportunities a day to help people. “I wanted a career that would help a community and that I could see the effects of firsthand,” said Clark. “Having the ability to interact with physicians, nurses and home care agencies as a pharmacist in a small town is really rewarding and makes me want to keep going forward.”

And forward he’s now going with a specialty pharmacy business. After selling his retail pharmacy to Coborn’s Grocery, he saw a new career path that he was very excited to follow, in addition to the full-time duties he retained at Coborn’s. Clark co-founded and serves as principle pharmacist at CoaguLife, a pharmacy that focuses on prevention and overall health for hemophiliacs and people with other bleeding disorders.

Pioneering a new approach to disease management, CoaguLife offers an integrated treatment philosophy. Combining drug management and physical therapy in a medically supervised environment has been met with unimaginable success in the patients they serve.

As a type 1 diabetic, Clark understands the chronic nature of disease and the need to be proactive about its management. This perspective has allowed him to see the bigger picture with CoaguLife and witness firsthand the impact the niche program is having on patients.

According to Dan Kallberg, CoaguLife president, Clark’s foresight in patient care has strengthened the organization.

Clark believes that this visionary approach has the potential to change the healthcare industry, not only in physician care and hospitalization, but also insurance practices – and he wants to be a part of its growing success story. This is how he can help a lot of people with this terrible disease.

“It’s a day-to-day, little successes career,” said Clark. “Making a little difference is something that you get a chance to do 300 times a day in a retail setting. In the CoaguLife setting, I’ve had a chance to really feel I am making a big difference in people’s lives.”

The patients seen at CoaguLife come in with unmanaged clotting factor drugs and musculoskeletal complications that arise from the disease. These factors set off a downward spiral of physical debilitation that increases patients’ risk for obesity, diabetes and the need for additional medications.

“CoaguLife Pharmacy is different in that they focus on prevention,” said Clark. “Meeting twice a week for physical therapy and assessments dramatically changes a patient’s outlook as they see immediate results.”

CoaguLife’s team is led by professionals — like physical therapist and hemophiliac Jeff Kallberg — who understand the complications that arise from the disease and know firsthand the results that can be achieved through careful management. The program’s activity spurs not only weight loss but also strengthens patients’ joints weakened by the disease. Patients can also reduce their hospital visits and factor utilization by 5% to 83%.

Clark sees CoaguLife is greatly benefiting society and the health insurance providers of its patients. Clotting factor drugs can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some cases over $1 million per patient per year. Yet CoaguLife’s program is slashing drug and overall health costs by up to hundreds of thousands per patient per year. “It’s a unique idea that has already proven itself,” added Clark.

With 10 years of hospital experience at Abbott Northwestern, an MBA from St. Thomas and almost 20 years of retail pharmacy behind him, Clark has continued to serve his community and profession. He is a Century Mortar Club Member, a supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; a member of American Diabetes and Minnesota Pharmacists Associations as well as the National Hemophilia Foundation. He is also past president of the New Prague Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Authority as well as a former board member of Community Security Bank.

So how does Clark measure success? It’s easy. “It’s the way you feel at the end of the day. I ask myself, do you feel like you accomplished something? Did you help?”

Clark and his wife, Kathy, live in New Prague. They have two children, Ryan and Matthew.

This Featured Leader is part of an ongoing series from the Center for Leading Healthcare Change that profiles pharmacy leaders in the community.