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One of the investors in the round was Cardinal Health, which RxLive will be integrating with
Most of us probably think of our pharmacists as just the person behind the counter who gives us our pills, but they're much more than that: they're the resource most people will turn to if they need help with their meditations. And, yet, they somehow exist outside of the care continuum, not factoring into the interaction between doctors and their patients.
RxLive, a provider of population health pharmacy solutions, was founded by husband-and-wife team Kristen and Mark Engelen with the goal of bringing them into the fold, and allowing pharmacists to take their place as part of the healthcare journey, in order to improve health outcomes for patients. On Tuesday, the company announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by SpringTide, with participation by Cardinal Health, bringing RxLive's total funding to $8 million.
"We really saw a need in the market because the traditional retail pharmacy setting is really under-serving the needs of patients. So, we are redefining what the practice of pharmacy is," said, Kristen Engelen, RxLive’s Chief Pharmacy Officer, said in an interview.
Traditional retail pharmacy has become all about a volume game, she explained, meaning dispensing as many medications as quickly as possible, with as few resources as possible.
"That means that there's fewer opportunities for pharmacists to spend meaningful time speaking to patients to ensure that they're doing well with their medications," she said.
"For too long, pharmacists have really been under-utilized by healthcare organizations, and we see pharmacy as one of the most meaningful investments that provider organizations can make as part of their value-based care strategy," said CEO Mark Engelen.
Founded in 2017, RxLive offers a population health pharmacy solution, meaning that, rather than thinking about an individual patient, it instead thinks about panels of patients and how they can most benefit from the input of their pharmacist.
For example: RxLive might monitor the drug dispensing patterns of 10,000 of patients who are impaneled at a particular physician organization; the meaningful piece around the business model is that that physician typically takes risk around that patient, Mark Engelen explained.
"There's this mass migration to Accountable Care Organizations, physician risk taking around reimbursement. So, what we're then doing is saying, 'let's give them a new data stream, which is pharmacy to physicians. Let's then use our analytics to identify which patients would most benefit from this deep interaction between the pharmacist and the patient.' That can be uncontrolled diabetes, or whatever we think is going to really create clinical value," he said.
RxLive then uses its technology to reach out to a patient, but make it feel like it's coming from their doctor, meaning it will outbound an enrollment phone call from the phone number of the physician, using the physician’s voice in a voicemail on the patient's answering machine inviting them to have a conversation with the pharmacist.
In addition, the company will also pull in the office visit schedule of the primary care provider and then align the pharmacist conversation to happen when that physician office visit is happening. It also uses data to improve that regimen through the physician's electronic health record to that provider when they're seeing the patient.
For the physician, they get comprehensive reports about how to optimize medication spend, while the patient gets a set of media inviting them to have a telemedicine conversation with a pharmacist that then happens for 30 to 45 minutes. The meat of the technology platform, however, is really for pharmacists, Mark Engelen said.
"Electronic health records are not typically designed for pharmacists for the pharmacy use case but we built a platform that is essentially designed for the pharmacy use case, but then has all of these analytic pieces as well as all of these patients activation and enrollment embedded within the workflow and platform," he explained.
The ultimate point of what RxLive does is to facilitate more communication and connection between the pharmacist and the provider, in order to help the provider do their job better. In fact, that's why the company considers the provider, not the pharmacist, to be its primary customer.
"If you redesign the business model for the physician to be the customer, then you can alleviate all the challenges that break healthcare in the first place, where physicians who should be that central hub of connectivity to a patient are often left out of all of these other disparate touch points, but now, with this pharmacist/physician interaction, and deep alignment, we think that that's a much more effective way to help both the provider and, ultimately, the patient," Mark Engelen said.
RxLive current has coverage from a pharmacist’s perspective across 30 states, with tens of thousands of patient lives that are being managed on the platform currently. In terms of ROI, RxLive has reduced hospital admissions by 27%, and reduced readmissions by 26%, all of which help reduce spend. For the patient, it has been able to reduce drug costs by up to $400.
"From a patient perspective, the pharmacist is really well positioned to talk about their formulary. So, for example, if they are taking a medication that is a higher cost, but there is an alternative that their insurance would pay for that is more affordable, then a pharmacist is really well positioned to have that conversation," said Kristen Engelen.
"We also have conversations about stopping unnecessary medications; we all know that in the United States, people are over prescribed. A pharmacist is really well positioned to have those conversations about whether this medicine is still necessary."
RxLive plans to use the funding to expand its engineering, analytics, and sales and marketing teams; it currently has 12 full-time employees and plans to double that over the next 12 months, while also looking to expand to all 50 states. It will also look to improve its AI and the functionality of its medication management platform, which will include integrating with its new investor, Cardinal Health.
"We’ve invested incredibly in our healthcare interoperability strategy, and I know healthcare intimately and how difficult that is. So, a big part of our strategy with Cardinal, who is one of our cap table members now, is about a deep integration with some of their platforms and technology, but then also just expanding the reach of RxLive and integrations with RxLive throughout other health forms," said Mark Engelen.
The ultimate goal of RxLive is to build the market leading, value-based pharmacy platform, he said, making it ubiquitous and used by all pharmacists in the country, the same way that OutcomesMTM, Cardinal Health's Medication Therapy Management platform, is currently.
"We've proven already that, with better technology and access to pharmacy talent, and insights and using data and platforms appropriately, that we can deliver on this promise right of pharmacists integration to value-based care," he said.
"Pharmacists should not just be that that entity who dispensing the counter but really should be on the frontlines of reducing hospitalizations, minimizing readmissions, driving reductions in drug care to create that value for all of these stakeholders, whether it's providers, payers or patients."
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