How New Ideas in Technology Are Changing the Pharmacy Industry

Expert Interview

Drug Topics was recently joined by Kevin Smith, PharmD from Prescyptive Health to talk about how the landscape of pharmacy changing, how AI and technology are part of that change, and what can be done to repair a broken system.

Drug Topics: Hey everyone, this is Quinn from Drug Topics. We are here today with Kevin Smith from Prescyptive Health. Kevin, do you just want to introduce yourself and give an overview of what you do at Prescryptive?

Kevin Smith: Yeah. Hi guys, Kevin Smith, pharmacist by training, joined Prescryptive about two and a half years ago and work on the product team. So my role is to really help lead product innovation to improve you know, pharmacy profitability through our suite of products. It's been a fun journey, and we're really excited about what we're doing and where we're headed.

DT: Cool. So one of the huge, upcoming things in healthcare right now is artificial intelligence. And pharmacies are always looking for ways to remain competitive and profitable. And one of those ways is incorporating AI into their business strategy. How is prescriptive using AI to help pharmacies achieve their growth goals?

KS: Yeah, absolutely. To your point. I mean, you can't, turn on the news without hearing something about AI. And we really think that there's an opportunity to utilize AI in the pharmacy space. And so we've done at Prescryptive is we've come up with an AI pricing program where we essentially utilize AI to help pharmacies provide cash prices to their customers. We recognized that, you know, traditionally it's a cumbersome manual process to continue to price drugs and there's absolutely an opportunity for pharmacies to utilize AI to help kind of change that paradigm and not only do the pricing but do it well and be able to take their goals and really shift it over and make it so that you know what they have traditionally been pricing a drug at, we can show them, hey, you know, we think that you should be pricing it at this at this price, which is a fair price to both the patient and the pharmacy. And so we've really taken that idea and brought that core philosophy and built out this program that really minimizes the amount of manual time to zero and helps balance patient access with pharmacy success. You know, we really need pharmacies to stay open and we believe that there's there's absolutely an opportunity and you need to take advantage of the cash market. And so our goal is to really to find that sweet spot.

DT: Yeah, definitely. So you talked a little about, you know, the benefits for pharmacies themselves. On the customer side, how are they benefiting from this?

KS: Absolutely. So our our goal is really to ensure accessibility to patients. Right. So yes, we're trying to balance pharmacy success. But at the same time, there's absolutely opportunities for patients, especially patients that have like high deductible health plans and things like that, as the market around prescription drugs and insurance has changed. You know, there's definitely an opportunity here. We've seen a an average savings for patients around 92%. So, you know, large patient savings with an average drug price right around $28. And that includes brand drugs. So, we believe that that's a really good place, that patients are still able to access drugs right? And we work with our pharmacy partners to set them up as a maximum to help protect the patient's themselves. Right. We recognize that AI and so the data that may exist on a given NBC might might change a price drastically from what they originally received at that pharmacy and so we work with our pharmacy partners to put boundaries in place to minimize that impact. Whether that's up or down, we want to make sure that it's fair for these patients..

DT: For sure. So, you know, DIR pricing and DIR programs is a hot topic, a lot of people are talking about it. Huge changes are coming into reforms coming starting next year in 2024. How would Prescryptive's AI pricing help pharmacies prepare and get ready for that?

KS: Absolutely. Yeah. So as we as we approach 2024 and the dual DIR fees that are kind of on the horizon for a bit. Liquidity is going to matter. Pharmacies are going to need to have cash on hand in order to get through that period where they were having incurred costs and so, you know, number one, being able to raise profitability will absolutely you know, help them survive that time. But then simultaneously, you know, having them be able to show patients, there's other ways to pay for prescriptions, especially with people that have like the High Deductible Health Plans, you know, those that will absolutely kind of change the paradigm of how pharmacies continue to approach selling drugs and hopefully we'll help decrease those DIR fees.

DT: Beyond AI, we know that there's tons of other technology that's being advanced and going hyperspeed in the healthcare right now. What technology other technologies are Prescryptive advancing and helping advance across the industry?

KS: Yeah, so you know, we believe at Prescyptive that the pharmacy ecosystem is kind of fundamentally broken, right? There's, there's players involved that are taking money out that don't really provide any necessary value. And so we think that any durable solution really needs to realign those financial incentives to help create value and empower patients. And we say create value players that are providing value in a pharmacy or patients right our goal is to help help provide value in that regard and the core issue is that the prescription experience is is a natural gateway to help that care cycle tank right. And so we're we're really focusing on is kind of changing how patients interact with prescriptions, whether that is through you know, being more price transparent, showing additional ways to pay for drugs, but that has downstream impacts. We can work with health systems to show how providing this information at point of care impacts the percentage of prescriptions that are initially prescribed that get picked up, and can have direct impacts to readmittancerates after somebody who comes out of the hospital which, you know, we all know impacts kita scores and things like that, that really all derive value and change, you know, change the how the money flows throughout our industry and we believe that it really does start with that prescription. And so we're really, we're excited to take on that challenge and change how prescriptions really flow. And we do that through what's called a digital prescription where you can actually send the prescription to Prescyptive and the patient will actually get a text message that says, you know, you have a new prescription, very similar to the old school piece of paper, except we're adding value to that piece of paper,right? Except we're adding value where we're able to show them here the various ways that you can pay for your prescription. Here's all the prices in your vicinity, so that you can make that choice and you can have the conversation at the point of care that says, hey, this is going to cost too much what are my options, right? And so we really think that there's a huge, huge opportunity here to change the pharmacy market fundamentally.

DT: Definitely. So we've talked a little from kind of a business overview perspective about all this, but what excites you as a pharmacist personally about Prescryptive's AI pricing?

KS: Outside of Prescyptive, I'm also the Oregon State Pharmacy Association president so you know, we've had all I've just come out of legislative days and working with people in our capital to try to keep the doors open and pharmacy, right. We fundamentally have have risks that if we continue down this path that pharmacies will utilize AI to shift that paradigm. And that to me is really cool. We've been looking for solutions that can provide value to pharmacies across the industry and this is one of those that's really unique and really does that we've we've seen pharmacies that were on the verge of of closing be able to add staff back. We've also been able to see those same pharmacies be able to show Hey, we're no longer going to close in six months, right, which, you know, that in and of itself is a story that we love. And then simultaneously like personally once we get into the factual information itself, I love seeing the data I love being able to look at it and say, here are the trends and here are the things that we're learning about prescriptions and how people work, how people interact and what works for a patient with desert on a population basis to be able to help you know, teach those trends to our to our pharmacies, and then work with them and get that feedback and say, Hey, here's what we're seeing. You want to try this and having that back and forth has been really cool. So kind of geeking out on the data has been really fun too, because we can we can use that data to really empower really cool. New processes for the pharmacies.

DT: For sure, Kevin, I think that's all I got for you today. Thank you for taking the time to meet.

KS: Absolutely. Thank you guys for having me, I love talking about it.

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