During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Centene is shining the spotlight on AAPI employees. Dharmesh Patel joined Carolina Complete Health in 2021 as a Clinical Pharmacist. He is also a member of the ABILITY, CENVET, MOSAIC, and I.N.S.P.I.R.E Employee Inclusion Groups (EIGs). Dharmesh has a background in healthcare informatics. Learn more in the Q&A below, as he shares why he enjoys working for a technology-focused company like Centene, how analytics benefit our members, his perspectives on allyship, and why it was important to join four Centene EIGs.
Q. Tell us about your background and your current role as Clinical Pharmacist at Carolina Complete Health?
A. My pharmacist experience spans 24 years and I have amassed a wealth of healthcare knowledge. This includes caring for the elderly in nursing homes, providing IV infusion, substance use disorder services, medication therapy management, and building automation into outpatient pharmacy. These key service areas, when added to my health informatics qualification, help me in my current role as Clinical Pharmacist. I support members clinically by comparing health data across platforms, making corrections, and highlighting deviations of clinical guidelines.
Q. What is the most meaningful part of your job?
A. I evaluate medication reviews, assess drug utilization of members, and look for quality improvement opportunities. Processing and reviewing claims is technology driven and having an analytics and informatics skill set, matched with a company that is technology focused like Centene, has benefited my job satisfaction. I can zero in on members who truly need my clinical help and impact the local community around me.
Q. Who influenced you most during your career and why?
A. Dr. Karen Bollinger DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer at Google, was a big influencer on my career path through her role as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (IT) (part of the Department of Health and Human Services). Back in 2014, healthcare IT was still being developed as part of advancing health information technology. Many health organizations were just beginning IT certification programs to connect to health information exchanges. This led me to pursue a master’s in health informatics as Health IT was being adopted by many health organizations across the U.S. Within pharmacy, I was in a better position to understand pharmacy automation, inventory management, claims data analysis concepts, and the standardization of healthcare information.
Q. How do you feel about Centene’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
A. Centene provides a robust platform to stage diversity, equity, and inclusion (it’s in Centene’s DNA). Our five EIGs are a key driver that make me proud to be part of a company that provides such support. Centene’s understanding, accepting, and valuing the differences of our employees is reflected by these EIGs. I have not experienced this level of commitment from a previous employer.
Q. Tell us about why you became involved with the ABILITY, CENVET, MOSAIC, and I.N.S.P.I.R.E EIGs?
A. Being open to diversity requires a direct channel to diverse groups and Centene offers this with the five EIGs, which are open to every employee. These platforms provide an insight into matters that are core to each EIG. They provide support, education, talent enhancement classes, and networking across all our health plans. Community engagement initiatives, virtual coffee meetings with special guest speakers, health check clinics, and many more events are planned over the months. These can be inspiring events that lead to engaging conversations that are not common in the workspace. These groups have added balance to my work life in a meaningful way, which I share with my young family.
Q. What is the importance of allyship to you and how can employees be better allies?
A. Allyship means being part of a supporting network and using this foundation to support and advocate for those less privileged. Mentoring outside your comfort level is an example. Greater communication may be required, and your style of teaching may need to change to meet the needs of others. Being willing to make the change is only the first step to leveling the playing field. It requires all of us to support this drive.
Q. What are your thoughts on the significance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
A. My parents are from the Indian subcontinent and immigrated to England in the 1960s. I was raised as an Indian Asian with a solid foundation of culture and tradition. This upbringing led me to leave my birthplace of England and to settle in the U.S. I was classified as immigrant when entering the U.S. and now have built a loving family and become a citizen. I bring an even more diverse cultural experience by being myself in our team meetings at Centene, which allows me to connect with many people.
Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage brings our diverse culture to the attention of other employees and highlights our continued contribution to the growth of this company and to healthcare in the U.S. It reminds us to embrace our unique makeup and provides a forum to share areas that make us different with others.