Twitter-like App for Healthcare Professionals: Interview
by Tim Sandle, Dec 2, 2017
ScriptSave WellRx is disrupting the pharmaceutical industry by promoting price transparency with a free mobile app. Consumers rarely know what the “real” price is for their prescriptions. This now set to change and Dr. Marcus Sredzinski tells us how.
The new ScriptSave WellRx is allowing consumers in the U.S. to see the real price behind every prescription, regardless of where they live. ScriptSave WellRx is designed to provide instant savings at the pharmacy register for both brand-name and generic prescriptions.
The app is the idea of Dr. Marcus Sredzinski, who is the Chief Operating Officer at ScriptSave WellRx. Dr. Sredzinski has more than 24 years of experience in healthcare, working with the the largest insurers, health plans, pharmacies and pharmaceutical organizations across the U.S.
To discover how the app works and the benefits it can potentialy deliver, Digital Journal spoke with Dr. Sredzinski.
Digital Journal: Thanks for the interview. What are the current concerns with drug pricing?
Dr. Sredzinski: There’s simply too much confusion here, and that’s a big part of the problem. For example, in the pharmacy industry, talking about drug pricing requires more specificity; are we talking about the wholesale price, the retail price, the brand price, the generic price, the cash price, the discount price, etc.?
Of course, the patient is likely just concerned about getting the “best” price, but s/he has no solid benchmark to serve as a guide, and few people understand the intricacies. Therefore, we’re ultimately all left reading the kind of stats that grabbed headlines for Consumer Reports recently, suggesting that as many as 14 percent of Americans aren’t taking their medication because they can’t afford it.
DJ: How important is it to have greater price transparency for pharmaceuticals?
Dr. Sredzinski: The increasing presence of high-deductible and catastrophic health plans continues to put more emphasis on the need for patients to become knowledgeable consumers of healthcare. As such, it becomes essential for the industry to show up with universal price-transparency tools. That is one of the biggest visions of ScriptSave WellRx – to bring greater price transparency for all prescription drugs.
Traditional health plans utilize copays as a tool for members to pay for prescription drugs. Because of this, many patients have been blind to the actual cost of their meds. That’s simply not today’s reality and, now that the blinders are off, many patients are shocked at what they’re faced with.
DJ: How will the ScriptSave WellRx app work?
Dr. Sredzinski: It’s so much more than just a pricing and discount tool. Sure, that’s where it started – allowing patients to understand what it would cost to pay cash for their prescription and to get a discount relative to that cash price. However, we want people to realize that this as an adherence and persistence tool as well.
Not only does the app provide prescription price transparency, it also allows patients to set alerts for when they’re due to take their next pill, as well as when it’s time to order their next refill from the pharmacy. We’ve also built in functionality to help keep track of side-effects that the patient might want to share with their doctor. It really has come a long way from the early days of just providing discounts to those without insurance.
DJ: Where do you collect the data for the app from?
Dr. Sredzinski: We have some extremely long-standing and trusted relationships with pharmacies, many of whom we view as true partners in our endeavors. The data that we are privy to come from these pharmacy partners.
DJ: How often is the data updated?
Dr. Sredzinski: We have a team of pricing analysts who work on these data every single day. In fact, that’s all they do – day-in, day-out. Prescription pricing really can be that changeable and complex, which is why we encourage our members and patients all over to be regularly checking in with the ScriptSave WellRx app or website ahead of every refill – the data are updated every single day.
DJ: What has the response been from the pharmacy profession?
Dr. Sredzinski: We’ve spent the past 20 plus years working extremely closely with retail pharmacy networks and we’ve always been about more than just providing a discount. The focus is on the continuum of care and, as such, the responses we’ve attracted have generally reflected a visionary status among our partners over time.
From the pioneering efforts of some pharmacies who had us help with the building and running of their in-store pharmacy loyalty programs, to a new pharmacy MTM partnership with Sinfonia Healthcare Group, it’s always been a humbling experience to roll out new innovations in such collaborative ways.
DJ: How have consumers reacted?
Dr. Sredzinski: Every time I look at our Facebook page I’m blown away by the positive sentiment that folks seem to want to share with their family, friends, neighbors, etc. The world has truly become a digitally social place, and health-and-wellness related products like ours are no exception to the “Like” button. When we unveiled the new Medicine Chest feature, that one certainly got consumers’ attention, as did the free “Ask A Pharmacist” MTM program with Sinfonia.
DJ: What has the up-take been like?
Dr. Sredzinski: Way beyond expectations, and it’s not solely from the consumer and patient sector. We’ve been inundated by inquiries that run the gamut from health-and-tech entrepreneurs with ideas on possible evolutions, to insurance and pharmacy pioneers wanting to discuss potential opportunities to work more closely together.
Meanwhile, we have prescribing physicians telling us that we’re literally helping them to save patient lives by allowing them to hand out our savings card free with every prescription they write.
DJ: Where can the app be obtained from?
Dr. Sredzinski: It’s currently available for iPhone and Android, and there are links on the WellRx website to our listings in each of those app stores.
DJ: What other types of healthcare related technology interest you?
Dr. Sredzinski: Personalization and machine-learning are going to be part-and-parcel of how healthcare will be paid for in the future. Hyper-personalization is the key, and we’re taking this seriously. I recently co-authored a white paper on this topic with Gary Hawkins, the Founder & CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail and Technology (CART). The paper focuses on the massive disconnect between the healthcare, retail and grocery industries, as well as the roll big-data have to play in this regard.
Imagine allowing a patient with diabetes or high cholesterol to seamlessly share this information with local grocery stores and Consumer Product Goods (CPG) manufacturers. The next time this patient restocks the pantry, their personalized offers could easily reflect foods that have been certified by the American Diabetes Association or the American Heart Association.
DJ: What other projects are you working on?
Dr. Sredzinski: We have a couple of big ones in focus at the moment. The first is to take a new look at an older concept we helped pioneer way back in our early days as a young company. The market for pharmaceutical copay cards is ripe for evolution and that’s right in our wheelhouse, so we’ll be working with interested pharma manufacturers to help change the dynamic in this space. In tandem with that, as anyone who attended the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ annual expo in August will know, our innovation in the personalized wellness space won industry recognition as we’re building a product to help connect retail pharmacy, retail grocery and consumer healthcare.
The project sees us working closely with some of the most innovative retail pharmacies and front-of-store retailers in the industry, and we’re bringing healthy offerings from the CPG space then syncing them to personal wellness profiles that patients can maintain within the ScriptSave WellRx platform.