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Cedars-Sinai Promotes Two Leaders in Department of Pharmacy Services

Expanded Roles for Expert in Finance and Pharmacy Operations, and Expert in Technology and Oncology

The Cedars-Sinai Department of Pharmacy Services has promoted two leaders who will support medication management across the health system. Melsen Kwong, PharmD, is the new executive director of Pharmacy Business and Ambulatory Services, and Vipul Patel, PharmD, is the new executive director of Pharmacy and Oncology Services.

"It is my absolute pleasure to announce these promotions because both Dr. Kwong and Dr. Patel joined Cedars-Sinai as residents decades ago and quickly became invaluable members of our team," said Rita Shane, PharmD, vice president of Pharmacy Services and chief pharmacy officer at Cedars-Sinai.

In Kwong’s new position as executive director of Pharmacy Business and Ambulatory Services, she will leverage her expertise in finance and pharmacy operations to take on a wide range of responsibilities in pharmacy business services, new initiatives, and ambulatory care services.

Kwong previously oversaw four ambulatory care pharmacies at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center along with their associated clinics, including the high-tech Pavilion Pharmacy, which she designed and operated. Prior to that, Kwong developed the fully accredited Specialty Pharmacy Program, which provides comprehensive services such as monitoring of medication adherence and side effects for patients with cancer, inflammatory bowel, transplant and other chronic diseases and conditions. The program grew significantly under her leadership, providing over 66,000 prescriptions this year.

As a resident at Cedars-Sinai, Kwong quickly became the Pharmacy Services Department’s finance expert and has since overseen the budget as well as billing, revenue, drug supply chain management and Cedars-Sinai's participation in the federal government's 340b drug pricing program that provides financial help to hospitals serving vulnerable communities. She also developed and implemented the first technician career ladder in the country.

In Patel’s new role as executive director of Pharmacy and Oncology Services, he will support oncology initiatives across the health system and be responsible for pharmacy services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Patel previously leveraged his oncology training from his residency in his role as pharmacy supervisor of the oncology units at the medical center. He has collaborated on oncology initiatives with Cedars-Sinai's cancer clinics and co-leads the Oncology Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.

During his residency at Cedars-Sinai, Patel became the pharmacy leader for the planning, design, implementation and operation of medication-related updates to the electronic health record. He led the pharmacy's early adoption of "smart pumps," which administer IV medications via digital orders received directly from the electronic health record. Patel also oversaw bar code medication administration, the deployment of hospital-wide Pyxis machines (automated medication dispensers for clinical staff), the implementation of Pyxis anesthesia carts and other technology associated with medication use within the Pharmacy Services Department.

"I have been delighted to watch Dr. Kwong and Dr. Patel grow into their roles as experts in their fields," Shane said. "In their new positions, they will help further our mission to provide the highest quality of patient care by overseeing the safe and effective use of patient medications."

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Healthcare HeroesPharmacy Services