Humana, Aspen RxHealth collaborating to offer app connecting patients with pharmacists

Humana is teaming up with digital health startup Aspen RxHealth to offer Medicare Advantage patients an app that connects them with pharmacists for clinical services, including medication therapy management.

Aspen RxHealth, based in Tampa, Florida, launched a year ago and developed a platform that digitally connects licensed, vetted pharmacists with health plan members in need of pharmacological consultations. 

The app helps to remove the barriers that currently exist for pharmacists to engage in direct patient care services, according to the company. Aspen RxHealth raised $9 million in a Series A funding round led by Flare Capital Partners in December 2018.

Humana launched the program in Tampa, Florida, with a potential expansion into other markets later this year.

The health insurer has been stepping up its efforts to use digital health and virtual care to improve care coordination and healthcare delivery and ultimately rein in health care costs. Humana is teaming up with telehealth company Doctor on Demand to launch a new virtual primary care model.

Pharmacists are becoming an extended member of patients' care teams due to a number of trends in healthcare, according to Aspen RxHealth executives. Patients are taking more medications, with greater complexities and with more expenses than ever before.

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While pharmacies have made tremendous advancements in workflow automation, compliance packaging and delivery services, there is a need to reestablish the patient-pharmacist relationship, according to Aspen RxHealth CEO David Medvedeff. 

The company provides a tool that enables pharmacists to engage in direct patient care services at a time when prescription subscriptions and at-home delivery is becoming more commonplace. CVS Health and Walgreens are both rolling out same-day delivery services and Amazon's acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack could have an impact on medication delivery.

Aspen RxHealth's platform focuses on pharmacists' services rather than the medications.

“With evolving trends of moving care out of expensive facilities to anywhere, anytime and also moving care to the appropriate level of care provider, pharmacists are emerging as a key solution to many of the challenges in our healthcare system,” Medvedeff said in a statement.

“Humana is leading this movement to enhance the role of pharmacists in the new models of care delivery that have the potential to disrupt and dramatically improve our health system. A key factor in facilitating this shift is enabling the required capacity that is both responsive and elastic; that is precisely the work we are doing at Aspen RxHealth," he said.

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Through Aspen RxHealth's app, pharmacists will contact Humana Medicare Advantage members and review medications, provide education and answer questions about their therapy. 

“Pharmacies only have records about prescriptions they fill, and insurance companies generally only have records if there is a claim. This means some medications may fall through the cracks if a patient uses more than one pharmacy, pays for a prescription out of pocket or takes an over-the-counter medication or a supplement that does not require a claim," Scott Greenwell, president, Humana Pharmacy Solutions, said in a statement.

"By working with Aspen RxHealth, we help ensure our members talk to their pharmacists about their medication plan and their intended treatment goals. A patient that stays engaged with their medication management is critical to improving whole person health,” Greenwell said.