PHARMACY

Recycling bad ideas

BY Rob Eder

The other day, I saw a young man in baggy jeans — that ridiculously enormous cut from the late 90s/early 2000s that seemed to fit every waist size from 28 inches to 4.5 ft., and gave every person the illusion of being their own “after” picture in one of those bad billboard weight loss ads. It was just another reminder that either, for a lack of creativity or extremely bad taste, every bad idea that ever existed eventually will be recycled.

Kind of like we are seeing right now in Washington with health reform: Politics aside, with the exception of a few bright spots, the highly anticipated proposed replacement to the Affordable Care Act, the American Health Care Act, if fully enacted, would represent a step backward in thinking around how to improve health care in this country.

That’s not to suggest that the ACA was perfect. Far from it; the legislation did a lot to expand access, and it got people focused on such important things as the quality of care and realigning incentives around outcomes versus fees-for-service, but it also failed to really lower overall costs.

You could say that allowing insurers to compete across state lines probably would have created more competition in the exchanges, and theoretically helped lower costs. You also could say that the individual coverage mandate under the ACA needed to be reexamined, but it’s hard to argue against making sure every American has basic health insurance. The reality is that Americans have been paying through the nose for years to cover the costs of the uninsured that go without routine, basic care only to wind up later in the emergency room, or on the operating table.

While it may be still too early to tell, according to community pharmacy advocates, it appears that the AHCA would offer mostly a mixed bag to the industry, with maybe a handful of positives. According to an online poll of DSN readers, 41% expect the AHCA to have the most positive impact on OTC sales; 35% expect retail clinics to be the big winners; and just 24% believe pharmacy will benefit most.

On the pharmacy side, it’s hard to imagine that any reduction in the number of covered lives could lead to an increase in script utilization, and the AHCA’s cap on per-patient Medicaid spending also could negatively impact that area of the business.

On the flip side, the AHCA could speed up the pace of new drug development by repealing billions of dollars in pharmaceutical manufacturer taxes, which could enable a broader focus on innovation.

Meanwhile, the prospects for self-care could improve under the AHCA, which would restore eligibility for OTC purchases under Healthcare Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts.

Separately, but on a somewhat related note, it appears that some members of Congress are noodling with the idea of allowing drug reimportation as part of the discussion around retooling Prescription Drug User Fees — further evidence that all bad ideas are cyclical. Just like those horrible baggy jeans.

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How CVS improves patient health

BY Brian Berk

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Improving patient care is constantly on the mind of CVS Health. In fact, this has been constantly on the mind of Stephen Gold, who has served as the retailer’s EVP and CIO since 2012.

Gold sat down for an interview with the Wall Street Journal where he talked in detail about patient care and patient health. Regarding what CVS has done to improve patient care, “Some of it is technological, some of it is process, and some of it is people and culture,” he told the newspaper. “At the tip of the spear would be what we’re doing in our innovation laboratory in Boston, where the goal is to basically operate in a mode that mimics a startup. A mind-set of experimentation, iteration, rapid testing and failure is part of the process. This laboratory is focused on bringing new digital products and services to market.”

As for sources of data related to patient health: “The data we get from patients’ prescription behaviors is key,” Gold said. “It’s the patient’s profile, their gender, their age, any allergies they may have, any disease state. All the information that is needed to appropriately care for the patient. We also have a proprietary platform that we call the health engagement engine, which is basically a very sophisticated, clinically focused customer-relationship management system that allows us to transform health-care data into actionable interventions that improve outcomes and reduce costs. We’re constantly expanding the number of interventions and use cases that can be delivered through this platform.”

To read the full interview, click here.

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Q&A: Transcript Pharmacy president discusses company’s growth

BY Brian Berk

Jackson, Miss.-based Transcript Pharmacy has enjoyed stellar growth for several years running, culminating the company being named to Inc. Magazine’s top growth lists five times. Drug Store News reached out Transcript Pharmacy president Cliff Osbon for an exclusive interview to learn more about the company and its impressive year-over-year growth. 

Drug Store News: Can you share some background about your company and the services you offer?

Osbon: Transcript Pharmacy is an independent specialty pharmacy, holding Board of Pharmacy permits in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We currently work with clinics and patients in about half of the U.S. states and have the ability to order and dispense a growing portfolio of limited distribution agents. We have a proprietary patient care management system that supports our patients’ treatment journey, while maximizing persistence and adherence. 

Our company was founded by two pharmacists in 2002. Our original and continuing mission is to help manage complex drug therapies in a way that maximizes patient outcomes and minimizes out of pocket costs.

DSN: What makes Transcript Pharmacy different from the competition?

Osbon: I think our company culture was formed early on. Everything we do revolves around patient convenience and our service to our customer-patient. For example, while we have robust data reporting capabilities and utilize technology extensively, we don’t place that between us and our customers in a way that delays their access to our staff or slows down our service time. 

All of the technology works on the backend to help us manage patients care and our business but every patient can reach a live, friendly staff member within four rings when calling us during business hours. We don’t use an automated attendant or phone trees of any type. Health care professionals and patients tell us they love the way they can interact with our staff promptly and move on to manage the rest of their day.

DSN: Inc. Magazine has placed you on its top growth lists five times, pegging 152% three-year growth early in this decade. What is driving so much growth for your company?

Osbon: The Inc. Magazine listings were quite an honor! We aren’t aware of any other specialty pharmacy in the country or any other business based in our home state, of any sort, that made the Inc. 5000 List 5 years in a row. To make the Inc. 5,000 List requires dramatic year-on-year growth. While that can’t be sustained forever, we are proud of our continued growth, especially in the Southeastern and South Central U.S., where we most heavily focus our sales efforts.

The growth that helped us achieve Inc.’s recognition was pure organic growth, driven by our regional sales managers and our internal service team. Fortunately, health care professionals and patients liked our service and deemed us worthy of their ongoing loyalty.

DSN: What do think are some of the keys to providing great pharmacy care in the future?

Osbon: In John Naisbitt’s 1982 book, “Megatrends,” he discussed the importance of business combining both “high-tech” and “high touch” to be successful. Naisbitt was discussing how technology should be supportive of customer service but never become a substitute for customer service or interfere with the business-customer relationship. I took that to heart 35 years ago as a pharmacy school student, and we have continued to use that philosophy to guide our business.

To provide great pharmacy care, both now and in the future, pharmacies will need to utilize technological tools that help their team members provide care, comfort and counseling to their patients in a way that meets their needs while respecting how complex the health care system can be, working to help provide them with clarity and guidance regarding their health care.

To read about the company’s latest news regarding its reaccreditation by URAC for an additional three-year period, click here.

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