In this interview with Drug Topics®, Angela Fusaro MD, MBA, CEO and cofounder of Physician 360, a telemedicine program that connects patients to health care providers, discusses how independent pharmacies can use telemedicine to play an expanded role in patient care while competing with larger chains and online pharmacies.
Fusaro explains that Physician 360 was designed to allow telehealth visits between patients and pharmacists to allow maximal comfort, limited hassle, and effective health care. And the cost-effective and time-saving benefits of the program are a plus, especially during the COVID-19 era. Patients are at the forefront of the design, as Fusaro is an emergency medicine physician and has witnessed it all when it comes to patient care. According to Fusaro, telehealth and in-pharmacy testing are revolutionizing health care.
In part 1 of this 3-part interview, Fusaro dives into how Physician 360 works, the impact of COVID-19 on health care, and the cost-effectiveness of the program compared with a regular physician’s visit.
Drug Topics®: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
Dr. Fusaro: Sure, so I’m the cofounder and CEO of Physician 360, but my professional journey really started in Emergency Medicine, so I am a board-certified Emergency Medicine doctor, I was most recently a faculty member in the school of medicine in Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and it was really in that role that I saw a lot of the gaps in the healthcare system.
Emergency medicine is great for seeing the best and the worst of humanity every day and so when those gaps in healthcare became undeniable it was really what motivated me and my partner to start the company with a mission to reimagine the practice of urgent care
Drug Topics®: That’s incredible, can you tell me a little about how Physician 360 works?
Dr. Fusaro: Sure, so Physician 360 is a virtual health clinic. Essentially, we partner with community pharmacies and empower them with access to on-demand telemedicine consults and rapid tests for all kinds of conditions that you would otherwise go to an urgent care for.
So these are typically conditions that are low acuity, but they’re still nonetheless incredibly disruptive to your everyday life so if you think about if your kid spikes a fever from a sore throat, most of the time there’s nothing particularly dangerous about that, but you know a lot of time missed at work or missed at school and high copays, so our vision was really about partnering with these pharmacies, providing them the tools that they needed, to function essentially like a minute-clinic.
So, we help them transform themselves into a place where clinical services can be offered. And in that way, we consider ourselves like the next generation of minute-clinics.
Drug Topics®: That’s amazing. Can you tell me how this is connected to COVID-19 and everything that has happened in the last year and a half?
Dr. Fusaro: Yes, so pre-COVID, we had established ourselves as experts in testing and treating for time-sensitive conditions. If you think about the typical user journey for us, the patient walks into the pharmacy, they purchase a test kit, they interact with a Physician 360 doctor or nurse practitioner on their smartphone, they’re walking out of that same pharmacy with a treatment prescription in less than 30 minutes ideally, usually for less than 50 dollars.
We were already doing that, we had the infrastructure in place for that type of experience pre-COVID, and then when the pandemic hit, we were appropriately positioned to play a meaningful role in the pandemic. I think COVID changed a lot of things, one of the things that’s very obvious is how everyone sees that. They see the experience I just described, they see it as the new normal.
I think pre-pandemic it was seen as very forward-thinking or very innovative and now remote testing and telemedicine, it’s clearly going to be the foundation of what healthcare looks like moving forward.