What Will You Change: Taking on the Role of Vaccine Distribution
Kim Lane’s career portfolio reads like a script for a primetime medical drama. Lane (Global Executive ’07) has worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since 1988 and now holds a prominent leadership position. But back in 1996, while assigned to the State Department of Health in Harrisburg, PA, she was first on-call when a refrigeration unit holding vaccines broke down at 3 a.m.
“Any time a unit fails, it’s critical to investigate and ensure the vaccines are transferred to a new unit. Otherwise, the vaccine will be spoiled and wasted,” Lane explained. “One state lost its units during the Fourth of July holiday a few years ago, and it cost taxpayers more than $2 million to replace the wasted product.”
After that hectic night in Harrisburg, Lane decided there needed to be a change in the way vaccines are stored and distributed to minimize emergencies. Increasingly she — and the CDC — focused on this goal.
After 9/11 and unprecedented vaccine shortages, as well as a realization that there was a pressing need for an automated ordering system, the government embarked upon developing a new vaccine management plan. Lane was instrumental in developing the procedures, and in 2003 The Vaccine Management Business Improvement Project (VMBIP) launched, streamlining the distribution process from manufacturers to immunization providers to patients.
“Once I started on VMBIP, I was dealing with revenue recognition, stock shortages, inventory models, etc. It became very clear that I needed to understand business so I pursued my MBA,” Lane said.
While taking Professor Will Mitchell’s strategy class where she learned about acquisitions and strategic alliances, Lane led the CDC’s efforts to outsource vaccine distribution to McKesson Corporation, a private distributor. She landed the McKesson deal in 2006, and it became a vital part of VMBIP. McKesson now provides more than 90 million doses of vaccine each year to more than 45,000 providers across the U.S.
“This federal procurement was one of the most challenging things I’ve done at the CDC. It was a very hard sell on both sides, but I could talk the public health and business language so I was instrumental in bridging the gap,” Lane said. “It can be challenging for government and the private sector to collaborate because they are so different. Our culture at CDC is very unique — academic and data-driven, with both a government and public health culture. You need to find the common ground.”
Now Senior Advisor to the Director of the Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases, Lane’s efforts paved the way for adeptly distributing H1N1 vaccines in 2009 to all immunization providers across the country.
“The summer’s H1N1 epidemic became an urgent public health situation. We had to quickly figure out how to get that vaccine to doctors and patients. We ended up leveraging the VMBIP model and McKesson contract,” Lane explained. “I think it really paid off.”
The magazine Strategy + Business highlighted Lane’s efforts, stating that “the project has meant gargantuan change within the CDC and in public health agencies across the United States.”
Despite the challenges involved, Lane has clearly grown into a star as she continues to affect positive change by using her business know-how to ensure efficient solutions to public health needs.