AT THE NEXUS OF IMPROVING HEALTH: ONE PILL AND PATIENT AT A TIME
WITH MEDICATIONS NOW THE GREATEST PERCENTAGE OF MEDICAL COSTS WITH THE LARGEST POTENTIAL FOR ERROR AND WASTE, RXLIVE TAKES A FRESH APPROACH TO COORDINATING AND IMPROVING HEALTH.
Pharmacist Kristen Engelen was frustrated. Imbued with a deep dedication to improving the health of others, she came to recognize that the current retail pharmacy environment couldn’t provide her with the satisfaction to be a personal, professional resource — one that could spend time with individual patients to evaluate all of their prescriptions and over-the-counter meds and discuss options that could potentially save them money and lead to a healthier, happier life.
The St. Petersburg-based RxLive was born. Partnering with her husband Mark, a Harvard Business School graduate with in-depth knowledge of healthcare and health information technology, they recognized the value of a concierge pharmacist service — one that freed pharmacists from the grind of filling prescriptions so they could really get to know each patient and provide the personal touch that used to be routine, particularly for the small-town pharmacists of old.
Making a healthy difference
“That’s why people like me entered the profession to begin with: to use our knowledge to spend one-on-one quality time with each patient to discuss their unique needs and the opportunities for health improvement,” Kristen noted. “I honestly found being a retail pharmacist unfulfilling. There was almost no time to check for all but the most significant drug interactions, discuss medication adherence or educate patients on potential cost-saving opportunities. I was usually unaware of what medications patients filled elsewhere, or what OTC products they were taking…all of the factors that come together to potentially help or hurt their health.” Kristen adds “Now, my RxLive colleagues and I can gather complete information, develop and privately discuss a patient’s plan, and truly make the difference in people’s lives like we always dreamed of.”
RxLive is a national network of experienced, carefully chosen clinical pharmacists who counsel patients and advise them on medications and care options using a secure, private telehealth platform. The service is being marketed primarily to large medical practices that increasingly are being paid on a “fee for value” basis — proving how they’re keeping their patients healthier — rather than the traditional “fee for service” where each medication, test or office visit carries a cost, regardless of its effect on a patient’s health.
At the nexus of improved health
“So many providers today are part of large groups that are accountable care organizations, or a patient-centered medical home, where they’re paid for the positive outcomes tied to the services they provide,” Mark said. “Despite the best of intentions,current models of population health management can feel disconnected and like a ‘factory’ from the perspective of the patient. We see an opportunity to create a more personalized, consumer-oriented experience with patients and their families at the center of the equation.
“Within a complex and disjointed healthcare system that includes different information systems and the prevalence of specialists, a pharmacist can truly sit at the nexus of this personal experience,” he added.
Pilot programs are already well underway with several provider groups around the nation, including in Oregon and New Jersey, proving the value of the new service. “We can’t wait to share the case studies of our sites’ successes in lowering costs, improving clinical outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction.”
The next generation is here:
Nowhere does genetics play a more significant role in optimizing health than in prescribing and the potential effects of medications. “Physicians are taking the broad-based, best-guess option for prescribing medications — based on which options are safe and effective for large groups on patients. But study results may not be pertinent for each individual. This leads to a “therapeutic odyssey” — until providers hit upon a medication that proves effective for a particular patient, with hopefully no harm done along the way,” noted Robert Kropp, MD, an RxLive advisor. That’s why RxLive is also offering pharmacologic counselling — to get a much deeper understanding of what’s likely to be effective based on an individual’s genetics. It’s an area that’s well-established but not particularly well understood by many, so we’re anxious to spread the word and expand its usage.”
Dr. Kropp is a highly respected Tampa Bay area adult and pediatric neurologist. After founding his St. Petersburg practice and dramatically expanding it up and down the Gulf Coast, he saw the value of emerging population health initiatives and received advanced certification in that regard from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Dr. Kropp went on to gain invaluable insights in care management and population health roles at industry giants Aetna and CIGNA, now consulting with and investing in innovators like RxLive because he recognizes its value to improve health outcomes.
“We’re extremely proud to have the support of Dr. Kropp and all of our investors and advisors who are equally as passionate as Kristen and I about what RxLive brings to the table,” Mark noted. “We’re also all committed to delivering these services from our base in St. Petersburg, and being part of the burgeoning innovation community here.”