Independent pharmacies have a new ally in building their prescription business, revenue, and profits. It’s called Phil, a desktop and smart phone app that provides concierge-level prescription management and delivery support for patients with chronic conditions.
“We take the burden of managing continuing prescriptions off the patient by working with independent pharmacies that know how to provide personal service,” said Deepak Thomas, MBA, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Phil, Inc. “We coordinate between patient, pharmacy, and doctor using intelligent software that takes the bumps out of the refill process. Surveys of patients and physicians that use Phil show a 52% overall increase in adherence compared to patients managing their own refills. And from the patient’s perspective, the cost is the same as it was when they went to a chain pharmacy. The copay remains the same.”
Patients sign up for Phil on their phones or at the website, www.Phil.us. Phil staff transfer scripts from the current pharmacy, typically a chain, to a local independent that has signed on as a Phil partner. Software manages the refill schedules and generates refill notices to pharmacy, payer, and, if needed, prescriber, and monitors the process.
The pharmacy partner fills the script and delivers by courier or by mail.
“The typical pharmacy can expect to fill an additional 15 prescriptions daily, said Harsh Vardhan, RPh, owner of SpringGreen Pharmacy in Katy, TX, a suburb of Houston. “The daily refill list is ready when I open in the morning. I can fill them in the slower periods during my regular workflow. Phil provides the patients, the prescriptions, and all the communications between pharmacy, payer, and prescriber. I focus on filling the script and everything else is done by them.”
Phil is software as a service, or SaaS.
“For a nominal charge to use their software, Phil expands my customer reach, brings me new patients that I would never have been able to acquire on my own, and coordinates refills between payer, prescriber, and my pharmacy,” Vardhan said. “I never have to worry about getting paid for a refill, the patient forgetting, or hanging on the phone to talk with the prescriber. It lets me increase my prescription volume without increasing my staff or overhead.”
Thomas created Phil using the customer marketing and fulfillment strategies he developed at eBay, Shutterfly, and Match.com, where he developed and managed mobile products. The need for outside prescription management and fulfillment services became painfully clear when he developed chronic Lyme disease.
Up next: A rude awakening
“It was a very rude awakening when it came to understanding how our health-care system works,” Thomas said. “Most of my interactions were with a pharmacy because I was often on three or four medications at a time. It felt like more of a struggle to manage my prescriptions and ensure a consistent supply than to deal with the disease itself. If you are the patient, our goal is simple: You will never again find yourself looking at the last pill in a bottle and wondering how you are going to get that refill.”
Getting refills can be torturous. The typical refill wait at a chain pharmacy is 60 minutes, Thomas noted. Patients can expect to walk out the door without their expected refill one visit in three because the pharmacy is out of stock, the prescriber has not okayed the refill, the payer rejected the claim, or some other administrative complication.
“Doing business is as much about exchanging information as it is product,” he said. “The pharmacy, doctor, and payer all want the patient to get better. But they don’t necessarily talk well with each other. Phil is a communication link between these three entities with the sole purpose of making sure that the patient gets their medications in a timely fashion without having to take on the management aspect themselves.”
Thomas declined to discuss how many pharmacies have signed up with Phil, but said the company has pharmacy partners in most states covering about 93% of the U.S. population. He said the app has about 8,000 prescribers working with it.”