Fuse’s innovation process, adaptive nature on display at Cardinal Health RBC 2016
As expectations from regulators, patients and payers change, community pharmacists are forced to be adaptive. Rolling with the changes can be difficult to do alone, but one division of Cardinal Health is working to adapt to customer needs as they are trying to navigate the changing healthcare landscape.
At Cardinal Health RBC 2016, the innovation lab Fuse — which opened in 2014 near the company’s Dublin, Ohio, main campus — was showing attendees how it operates, how it responds to customers’ needs and how it is looking to disrupt the healthcare landscape.
On the tradeshow floor, Fuse’s aptly named Innovation Taking Flight display was inspired by some of the earliest disruptors — the Wright brothers, who brought a game-changing steering process to aviation to build the first successful aircraft and change the transportation industry forever. One section served as a showroom for some of Fuse’s innovations, allowing attendees to offer feedback on some of the solutions still in development. In another section of the Fuse display, the Scout team, who focuses on innovation, was creating a prototype of a solution that helps pharmacists integrate clinical services into their workflow.
The prototype build began before the show with a customer survey asking what pharmacists’ biggest pain points are, with clinical services integration coming up most frequently. Over the course of the show, attendees helped narrow down what they were looking for in a solution. By the final day of RBC 2016, Marty Vian, Fuse user experience leader, and his team had built Nomi. The prototype’s name is a play on words, as it would help pharmacists identify their patients using facial recognition software that would also identify potential clinical interventions for which the patient is eligible.
“The main area that Fuse focuses on in innovation is working with the customer — understanding their problems and what works best for them,” Fuse communications business partner Jessie Slater told Drug Store News at Cardinal Health RBC 2016. “We're not developing things that work best for Cardinal Health or for Fuse — it's what works best for our customers. We involve them in every part of the process.”
One of the best-known innovations to emerge from Fuse is Cardinal Health MedSync Advantage. Vian told Drug Store News the platform — which helps community pharmacists identify patients who would benefit from medication synchronization, sync a patient’s medication and monitor adherence — was developed by the innovation lab in partnership the with Cardinal Health Retail Independent business, in response to an issue raised by a customer at a past Cardinal Health RBC, and it was done with constant consultation with customers.
“Instead of building the entire bike and then seeing if we can ride it, we start with a small piece of it,” Slater said. “So before we get too far along in the process, we get customer feedback and ask, ‘Up to this point is this working?’ Then how can we iterate on that, make it better and keep iterating until we get there?”
“We want to come out of this with a great idea and great insight on how well an idea will work, but it also highlights how we work," Vian said. "We're trying to demonstrate the speed at which we work and the involvement of the user, getting their feedback along the way as opposed to spending 18 months building a piece of software that nobody really wants.”
Cardinal Health RBC 2016 panel highlights impact, potential of pharmacy advocacy
Given that 51% of prescriptions in the average pharmacy are for Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, independent pharmacists know just how the business of pharmacy and public policy are inextricably linked. And at Cardinal Health RBC 2016, the ways pharmacists can have an impact on the legislative process were front and center.
During Cardinal Health RBC 2016’s Opening Session, host Eva Saha moderated a panel discussion about pharmacy advocacy, featuring Cardinal Health SVP Independent Sales Steve Lawrence, Healthcare Distribution Alliance SVP Kristen LaRose Freitas, National Community Pharmacists Association President and CEO Doug Hoey and Bronx-based independent pharmacist and President of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York Roger Paganelli.
Paganelli kicked off the panel by discussing one of the tangible effects his involvement as a member of PSSNY has had on the profession, pointing to a New York law taking effect this year that focuses on multi-source generics pricing (MACs), creating a way for disputes to be appealed, investigated and resolved. The law requires pharmacy benefits managers to respond to pharmacy-filed appeals within seven days. If an appeal is deemed valid, all other pharmacies in the network will see the maximum allowable cost adjusted.
“When we are reimbursed less than what we pay for a prescription, we wanted the opportunity to go back to the PBMs and say, 'You paid us less than what we paid for this. It's not fair. We want it back,’” Paganelli said.
On the national level, HDA’s LaRose Freitas touted the speed with which pharmacy owners and other stakeholders came together to lobby Congress to pass a bill that worked to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic, while ensuring legitimate patients could get access to their medication. The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act was signed by President Barack Obama in April. The law clarifies some Drug Enforcement Agency regulations, while allowing pharmacies to correct any identified issues with medication before corrective action is taken.
“I think sometimes people feel like their voice isn't heard, but this legislation is an example of how pharmacy groups and patient groups asked for some guidance and clarity in DEA regulations and were ultimately successful,” LaRose Freitas said. “This was legislation that moved extremely quickly. Congress heard there was a problem that needed to be addressed, and they did it in a bipartisan way.”
Alongside the legislative victories are ongoing efforts that Hoey discussed, including one of the most anticipated issues awaiting congressional action — giving pharmacists provider status under Medicare Part B. The legislation, which has 290 House members and 49 senators as co-sponsors, is currently awaiting action by the Congressional Budget Office.
In addition, the NCPA has had a big hand in asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to issue a guidance that would address direct and indirect remuneration fees, which can be assessed by PBMs and plans months after a prescription is dispensed. The guidance NCPA is pushing for would require those fees to be disclosed at point of sale.
“It's not a cure all, but at least it's a step forward in being able to make some business decisions,” Hoey said.
Throughout the panel discussion, participants emphasized the impact that pharmacists who get involved in the process of lobbying lawmakers can have simply by reaching out to their representative. And Lawrence left RBC attendees with a call to action, highlighting the only pharmacist in Congress, Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter, R-Ga.
“We need more pharmacists throughout state and national levels,” Lawrence said, adding that advocacy is equally important. “[Lawmakers] need to understand what you do every day so they can pass the right legislation and you can take care of your patients the way you want to. Doug said it best, and I’ve heard other people say it — you need to get into politics or get out of pharmacy — and you should take that to heart and get involved.”
Q&A: How consumers can fight the bedbug epidemic with KiltronX
Since a resurgence in the late 1990s, bedbugs persist as a problem across the United States. According to recent surveys by the National Pest Management Association, 99.6% of pest professionals surveyed treated for bedbugs in 2015 and one out of five Americans has had a bedbug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bedbugs at home or in a hotel. As these infestations continue to rise across North America, DSN talked to Gary Beutler, COO of KiltronX Enviro Systems, about the problem and the remedies required to combat it.
DSN: How widespread is the bedbug problem in the United States?
Gary Beutler: About 85% of the U.S. population is now looking to avoid bedbugs and looking into steps needed to prevent them. Close to 200 million in the United States have had, know someone who has and are looking to avoid bedbugs. The real problem is that the majority of Americans can’t afford professional pest control and have nowhere to turn because pesticides, heat and poisons can’t stop them. KiltronX Live Free Pesticide Alternative is a mechanical killer and not a poison. Bedbugs are everywhere and on the move, hiking their way into our homes, movie theaters, automobiles, schools, institutions, workplace and all spaces that humans and pets share.
DSN: What can retailers expect from bedbug pandemic this year?
Beutler: The bedbug epidemic has become a life-and-death threat and public health risk that is underreported, underdiagnosed and has no cure or vaccine.
Complaints and possible civil liability have occurred as bedbugs have become resistant to popular pesticides and can't stop them. Pesticide pushback on products currently found on shelves links to cancer and terrible illnesses. An estimated 12 million people in the United States are infected with tropical diseases and most don't know it. Increased cases of deadly diseases, such as Chagas disease and MRSA, are transmitted by bedbugs and is the greatest insect threat to Americans, even greater than Zika.
DSN: How is KiltronX delivering value within the pest control space to its retailer customers?
Beutler: KiltronX’s mission and purpose is the marketing of our products with our company's commitment to "HelpingUHelpsMe," so when a consumer buys one, we gift one and our company is socially responsible to helping those who can’t help themselves. So with every purchase made, we verifiably gift bedbug products. KiltronX products are made in America and sold by veterans through our Veteran Foxhole Program. Our Live Free Pesticide Alternative Bedbug products are the most affordable, carry the longest guarantee DIY products available. Once installed, they create a live free "wall" between the consumer and bedbugs. Live Free Textile products work 365/24/7 and (by far) carry the longest unconditional replacement guarantee of any product.
DSN: Which consumer segments do you see as key to your growth strategy? What is KiltronX doing to reach these desired segments?
Beutler: We have a reciprocal partnership with the 200-year-old WestPoint Home textile company. Their value proposition to us is their tradition, size, quality textiles and worldwide distribution, and we bring the innovation and market expansion. WestPoint Home’s partnership with KiltronX is further validation of the scale and eminence of solving this world problem.
Our ultimate corporate goal is to completely eliminate bedbugs from the planet. With that in mind, we have selective specialization for prioritizing the highest potential markets. Once we receive large market adoption, we can expand into all other segments to completely squash this pest. In a recent survey of all pest control professionals in the country, 95% reported treating bedbugs in apartments/condominiums, 93% in single family homes and 75% in hotels/motels. Bedbugs live where we live, which is why we are so focused on partnering with local neighborhood pharmacies and drugs stores. Because our products are an entirely new method for solving this human dilemma, we have two main categories we are focusing our efforts [on].
Treatment of bedbug infestation is an existing market that has been traditionally served with pesticide chemicals with little positive evidence of success. This psychographic segment is being served with our product with great success, and we are targeting "innovators," "thinkers" and "makers" within this segment because they are attracted to safe alternatives, simple functionality of our product, potential DIY application and our commitment to making our product in America. The hurdle in this segment is the legacy belief that it has to be a "nasty" pesticide to kill a "nasty" bug, but our customers continue to be amazed that our product is significantly more effective and safe.
The second major category is prevention, which is not served by any other comparable product. This behavioral segment is best defined by occasions. Bedbugs must hitchhike to move from location to location, and we've designed our product line to take advantage of this inherent trait. I define this consumer segment in my own words as "movers and shakers." The major link between these consumers is travel or moving. Any person who travels for business, vacation, grand kid visit, wedding, funeral, reunion, public transportation, including trains, buses, automobiles, RVs, taxis; and permanent movers like college kids, apartment renters or new home buyers. These consumers want to "live free" from bedbugs and protect their loved ones when they come back home. The hurdle of this segment is educating the consumer that there is a safe product available for prevention. Because historically, no one would have purposely exposed their loved ones to pesticides if they didn’t already have an infestation — we have to change the consumer mindset. The best way to effect this change is with trusted influencers such as pharmacists, local drug store owners, corporate human resource officers and employees that live in the same community. We have also partnered with Tony Bongiovi and Radd.Org in delivering music in our efforts to empower children.