RxAlly closes: Vision of a national network to advance pharmacy practice fades

Goodbye to a friend of pharmacy.

In this case, we’re not talking about an individual; we’re talking about a fledgling company called RxAlly, and about its grand but ultimately unsuccessful plan to combine the collective strengths of thousands of pharmacies to advance a higher and more engaged form of pharmacy practice. So, as much as anything, we’re saying goodbye to an idea.

It was a good idea. RxAlly got up and running some 18 months ago with a noble vision: to bring together “an unprecedented alliance of pharmacies united to help patients achieve better health through personalized pharmacist care while reducing costs,” in the words of its leaders.

For a while, it did just that. At its peak before announcing last week that it was shuttering its operations, RxAlly had signed up a national network of more than 22,000 chain and independent pharmacies working to advance patient-care services and cost-effective solutions for patients and health plan payers.

What’s more, it was led by a couple of retail pharmacy thoroughbreds: CEO Bruce Roberts, who emerged as independent pharmacy’s most articulate and visible defender in his years as head of the National Community Pharmacists Association; and Rebecca Chater, who served as one of chain pharmacy’s top visionaries and champions on behalf of a higher form of pharmacy practice and patient care in her years as head of clinical services for Raleigh, N.C.-based Kerr Drug. Chater joined RxAlly in late 2012 as VP-health outcomes.

Announcing its board’s decision to shutter the operation, RxAlly said Friday it was “disappointed in this outcome,” but mindful of “the progress we made in developing a shared interest in advancing pharmacist care.” And there was progress, including supporting pilot projects to boost patient adherence and the release of a white paper in May, “Personalized Pharmacist Care: Healing America's Post-Reform Health Care System,” that fleshes out the concept of “individually tailored, pharmacist-provided clinical and consultative services to improve patient quality of life and optimize clinical and economic outcomes” as a solution to America’s overwrought and overstretched health system.

The closing of RxAlly is a disappointment to some advocates of a higher form of pharmacy practice, but it doesn’t signal any retreat by the profession or the retail pharmacy industry from their long campaign to elevate pharmacy’s place in the U.S. health system and engage more directly with patient outcomes and cost-effective care solutions.

What’s your take on the closing of this 18-month effort to weld together a national force for advancing pharmacy-based clinical care? Is it a real defeat or just a setback on pharmacy’s road to a new and higher level of practice and patient engagement?

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- 11:40 PM
wjc says

RxAlly was a good concept, something pharmacy has been wanting for years, but was doomed from the beginning. Pharmacists have been asking for more clinical roles for years, something RxAlly was to deliver, and to be paid fairly for these services, something RxAlly did not deliver. Our profession has been pushed around and dictated to for too long and RxAlly's failure highlights this fact. We are highly educated well trained clinical professionals and we deserve payment for our services that reflects this. We have proven our worth many times over, we are beyond proving, now is the time to demand proper payment for our services. RxAlly could have been the start of something big,instead it was a complete flop, not because of the idea or concept, but because of the lack of reasonable reimbursement. So for now goodbye RxAlly and SmartD maybe you will be resurrected in the near future with a payment structure pharmacy can live with.

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