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McKesson ideaShare 2018 highlights new Health Mart Atlas PSAO

Health Mart Atlas is only three months old, and already its PSAO partnership with American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc., or APCI, is helping independent pharmacies deal with the changes and complexities in managed care. So said, Health Mart Atlas’ vice president and general manager Eyad Farah, speaking at a roundtable at McKesson’s annual ideaShare 2018 in Las Vegas.

Launched in April, Health Mart Atlas manages core PSAO services, including third-party PBM and payer contracting, credentialing, central pay, and MAC pricing appeals for community pharmacy, including all current AccessHealth and APNS members.

Emphasizing that the pharmaceutical supply chain is rife with announcements of different transactions almost weekly, Farah said “Our industry is going through a transformation. I’d like our customers to understand what we are doing today, how McKesson and Health Mart Atlas are helping them navigate through all of this change. Customers and pharmacies need a managed care and a PSAO partner today more than ever. It’s getting more challenging and complex.”

“What was important to APCI, was not only to be part of a larger network but also to be partnered with a team of experts, the Atlas team in a complicated industry but also have APCI maintaining a high level of customer service for our members,” said APCI’s chief operations and finance officer Susan Maze.

When queried how customers are reacting to the new venture, Farah jokingly quipped, “They said, ‘Why did it take you so long?' When you think about the benefits there’s clear synergy in creating the joint venture. There’s a lot of present and future value the members are seeing.”

Maze agreed that members have reacted positively. “They want to be tied with a larger network and have more resources and direction for the future,” she said.

In order for independent pharmacies to be successful now and in the future, contracting expertise is vital, Farah said.

“We have the right scale that positions us for success with the PBMs and payers. We have a comprehensive process and we bring that expertise to the table when we are talking to PBMs and reviewing contracts. We’re not just signing a contract, we are looking at what contract makes sense. Not every contract is the right contract for our pharmacies."

Pointing out that there was clear alignment between the two partners on their focus on performance, Farah said, "We’ve clearly continued to make progress as it relates to educating the marketplace, setting goals, and on all of the quality based initiatives that is driving us (pharmacy) in a different direction. We are both helping shape that and educate the marketplace and helping improve and influence the network performance."

Emphasizing that APCI is very focused on outcomes and patient quality, Maze said, “We are leveraging and continue to leverage the Health Mart brand. This is another opportunity to further leverage that brand with our customers. Independents didn’t really have that brand identity all the way from the payer level to the patient level and with Health Mart we do.”

In an effort to drive patient outcomes, McKesson and Health Mart have held a series of town halls in the past few years. That effort has resulted in getting the right solutions in place and having the right conversations with patients and driving better outcomes, Farah said.

"Year over year, we see growth in the numbers and better adherence. In one of the metrics we constantly look at is what percentage of the network has one of their adherence metrics in the top 20 and for the last couple of years we have more than 40% of our network with one metric in the top 20," said Farah, adding, "We look at some of the plans and payers that have DIRs tied to performance; year over year we are constantly driving the lowest DIR and the best reimbursement for the network because it’s tied to  the performance of the overall network.”
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