Industry Spotlight: 20 Questions with Mark Pew, Sr. Vice President, PRIUM
Claimwire Interview by Steve Schmutz
#1 Claimwire: “Where did you go to school and what did you study?”
MP: Georgia State University, business major. Since then I’ve had many opportunities to self-educate, including business analysis, software development, project management, offshore resourcing, workers comp industry, prescription drug epidemic, and public speaking.
#2 Claimwire: “Can you share something about you that most people wouldn't know?”
MP: I had long hair until approximately 2000, primarily because I’m a tad non-conformist. Of course, that meant I also had to be really good at what I did because I did not fit the corporate profile at a very conservative organization like Equifax. My kids hold onto older pictures for nice TBT giggles.
Steve’s note: I had to ask Mark what TBT meant. It stands for Throw-Back-Thursday. I should’ve known that one.
#3 Claimwire: “What are some of your hobbies?”
MP: I enjoy music – I used to play in garage bands (rock) and my church’s praise band, but now I just enjoy listening. My favorite Rock groups are Rush, Van Halen (I like both Roth and Hagar), Creed, and Led Zeppelin. I enjoy sports – My daughter is an outstanding gymnast and soccer player, so I’ve become a big fan of those sports (Liverpool - YNWA). I enjoy hiking – my son is an Eagle Scout so I learned to camp and hike along with him and still very much enjoy challenging walks in nature.
#4 Claimwire: “What people have influenced your life, and in what ways?”
MP: My father because he was truly selfless and creative and innovative (e.g., he was one of the first full-time youth pastors back in the mid-1950s). My first boss, the owner of Pizza Pan, because he gave me a chance to work at 14 and helped establish my strong work ethic (e.g., find something to do even when there isn’t anything to do). My first IT manager at Equifax, who showed me that I had no ceiling as long as I worked hard and was observant and always did what I said I would do. The original owner of PRIUM, a former Equifax executive who died in 1994, with whom I spent many nights and weekends understanding how to be a businessman and to manage people.
#5 Claimwire: “What historical figures do you look up to and why?”
MP: Jesus Christ because he changed the world with a small band of followers and remains relevant today. Abraham Lincoln because he kept the USA from becoming two countries through relentless persuasiveness. Martin Luther King because he would not accept the status quo and was an unparalleled leader by actions and words. Winston Churchill because he was a daring leader who never cracked under extreme pressure. Paul Harvey because he could tell an impactful story with a sub-plot of significance in a concise manner. Neil Armstrong because he was willing to take that one small step for mankind.
#6 Claimwire: “What two or three Smartphone apps do you use the most – for either business or personal use?”
MP: LinkedIn and Delta.
#7 Claimwire: “Give us a brief recap of your career.”
MP: I’ve had three careers at this point (I think the average is five in a lifetime). My first was IT, where I analyzed, designed, created, tested and implemented software on a variety of platforms along with creating and managing teams and navigating Y2K (yes, it was a real issue) . My second was Sales, where I created products and services that met a customer’s need and then was able to articulate the value proposition sufficiently to get them to buy. My third is Education. I educate work comp stakeholders about the risks involved with prescription drugs and how to help injured workers reduce the amount of drugs they take. The recurring theme throughout my business life is to identify an issue and create a tangible solution.
#8 Claimwire: “On a professional level, what factors motivate you on a daily basis?”
MP: My wife tells me I am a workaholic (that began at Pizza Pan when I was 14). However, my primary motivation is to make a difference and that plays out perfectly at PRIUM. I have focused since 2003 on prescription drug over-utilization, and the products and services that I’ve created to help mitigate that risk have helped people. While I enjoy work, it would be hollow if it was just about me – everyone wants a sense of purpose. I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to positively affect hundreds of lives (USA, India, Panama) in my career.
#9 Claimwire: “Tell us how PRIUM is doing and what you see in the next two to three years.”
MP: PRIUM’s reputation as a thought leader has increased dramatically in the marketplace because of our Medical Intervention Program that addresses the epidemic of prescription drug over-utilization. PRIUM worked on the prescription drug problem long before it became newsworthy and we will continue to identify and address medical issues that increase costs without improving patient health outcomes or quality of life.
#10 Claimwire: “Other than your product, what are the greatest assets and strengths PRIUM has?”
MP: Our people, our passion for doing the right thing, our willingness to try new things, our ability to track outcomes and to achieve results.
#11 Claimwire: “If you had to boil PRIUM down to one sentence, what would it be?”
MP: PRIUM goes above and beyond to address medical treatments that create more problems than they resolve.
#12 Claimwire: “In just a few key words, describe the culture of PRIUM.”
MP: PRIUM provides opportunities for everyone to achieve their potential, and that is through a positive attitude and active collaboration and incentives that provide the proper motivations. If you are customer-centric, have a strong work ethic, are competent, are creative, do not accept the status quo, and are team oriented, you will thrive at PRIUM.
#13 Claimwire: “Where do you see your industry headed in the next few years?”
MP: Work Comp will continue to trend towards a constantly increasing focus on being healthcare-centric. With the increasing average age of the work force that brings associated co-morbidities and increasing severity of injuries, the need for ensuring that care is appropriate and compensable will continue to increase. Adding in the impact that the Affordable Care Act will have over the next several years, the path forward is very unpredictable. Those stakeholders that carefully manage medical treatment, proactively to engage before damage has been done and retroactively to fix those that have become problematic over time, will be who stays relevant in the industry.
#14 Claimwire: “How important is Social Media to PRIUM and to you personally?”
MP: PRIUM has created a grassroots social media strategy over the past two years that has driven the increase in industry standing through a corporate blog (Evidence Based) and personal LinkedIn profiles. This is part of the overall marketing strategy of being recognized subject matter experts for industry authors, to write articles and whitepapers, and provide education to stakeholders to help create more system solutions. We are in the process of establishing a more structured and refined strategy to expand our social media outreach.
#15 Claimwire: “Related to the last question, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being an Ultra Power User, what lever of Social Media user are you?”
MP: I am probably a 4. The intention is to improve that capability in 2014.
#16 Claimwire: “If you could hire any famous person to be the spokesperson for PRIUM, who would it be and why?”
Someone who is an advocate for patient wellness and health. The TV doctor from 1969-1976, Marcus Welby MD, would fit because of his common sense and ability to relate to patients. Today’s corollary might be Dr. Oz. Our focus is on trying to make sure the patient gets the appropriate care, because all Work Comp stakeholders win if you focus on the patient’s health.
#17 Claimwire: What is the role of medical marijuana in chronic pain?
MP: There is clinical evidence that shows medical marijuana can be helpful for conditions such as nausea, seizures and suppressed appetite. However, some of the evidence is anecdotal and there is no true consensus in the healthcare marketplace. A generational perspective on marijuana (seen by Baby Boomers as a negative, seen by Millennials as acceptable) complicates opinions. If you looked back 10 years (maybe even 5 years), society in general was not as convinced about the uses of medical marijuana as they appear to be now. From public surveys, to states poised to make it legal, to President Obama opining that marijuana is safer than alcohol, to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discussing during the 2014 Super Bowl its merits compared to painkillers currently being used – it seems as though we’ve reached a societal tipping point of leaning towards approval of medical marijuana. Compared to the significant negative side effects that come from the chronic use of opioids, an argument could be made that marijuana is a reasonable analgesic substitute. But do the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana create other problems? And how does this all relate to drug free workplaces? The answer lies with decisions made on a case-by-case basis, with the caveat that it is incredibly important to establish up-front the strategies for how to make that evaluation so the decision is more objective than subjective.
#18 Claimwire: If you could build the perfect Man Cave, what would it be like?
MP: A secluded room in the basement that would include a very large HD TV with all of the sports channels, a laptop computer with a large monitor, and a Rush setup (Alex Lifeson guitars, Geddy Lee bass and Neil Peart drum set).
#19 Claimwire: If you could spend a year living in any other country, which would it be and why?
MP: France. I’ve traveled there on multiple occasions (mostly on my way to India). I like the food, the vibe, the scenery, and that I can drink the water. Because it’s so laid back, I probably would be ready to come back to Atlanta sooner than a year.
#20 Claimwire: If you were starting your career all over again, what would you do differently?
MP: Absolutely nothing. I have probably had as many defeats as I’ve had victories, and I have often learned things the hard way. I have been mentored and have mentored others. Although I never really had a master plan for who I wanted to be when I “grew up”, the interlocking pieces of career steps has been fun to watch in the rear view mirror. Who I am today was built through those experiences, and what I’m doing now is very fulfilling and impactful.
Mark Pew brings 30 years of experience in the property and casualty, technology and healthcare industries to his presentations. He has worked with PRIUM in a variety of roles since 1989, most recently educating stakeholders and developing strategies for managing the overutilization of prescription drugs in workers’ compensation. Mark created PRIUM’s Medical Intervention Program in 2003 and since that time has refined the program and created several other services to address the prescription drug epidemic.
Since 2012 Mr. Pew has spoken at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference, work comp conferences in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia as well as at numerous training sessions for workers’ compensation professionals across the country.
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