In the latest edition of our 2023 Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) Happy Hour series, the DHIT team took the energy to American Underground, a preeminent innovation and entrepreneurial hub in the heart of downtown Durham. The evening was sponsored by Duke University’s Master of Management in Clinical Informatics (MMCi) program, an accelerated, 1-year master’s program specifically designed to develop multidisciplinary expertise in order to manage and lead data-driven innovation in institutions around the world. Our audience was comprised of digital health innovators and champions all connected by a shared vision of digital health transformation for our current, inefficient and overly expensive healthcare system. The main event of the evening was a fireside chat led by Michael Levy, CEO and Co-founder of DHIT. He was accompanied by digital health evangelist Vinay Patel, President and Founder of MakoRx, a revolutionary pharmacy benefits company built to increase transparency and affordability around prescriptions through a network of local pharmacies, providing a subscription-based health plan for basic services at zero out-of-pocket, and implementing innovative solutions at community-based pharmacies to improve access to needed care. MakoRx serves as the ultimate healthcare resource for patients, employers, and healthcare networks with creative models that improve the current experience. Vinay is a seasoned pharmacist executive who has spent his career positively influencing population health management and community pharmacy operations.

During their discussion, Vinay spoke to elevating community-based pharmacies and wrap-around care services to support new models of healthcare delivery across our communities.

Vinay began by discussing how insurance behemoths have “influenced the care that is provided to patients so excessively that it limits and restricts a lot of what pharmacists can do and say related to pharmacy services on the pharmacy side of care delivery.” And so he created MakoRx to open up the field to allow pharmacists to be “on the healthcare team” – providing unrestricted care to patients. 

Day-to-day, MakoRx operates as a pharmacy benefits management company to “reverse the status quo of focusing on high-dollar drugs and rebates to create a net-cost formulary with generics to incentivize medication adherence.” MakoRx is about helping “self-funded employers and the working people of North Carolina have easy, straightforward access to medication across the complex world of pharmacy.” MakoRx also serves the community using the technology infrastructure they have built with health informatics to allow community-based pharmacies to offer certain specialty services. One example is Modern Ritual, a tele-dermatology, care navigation platform. “Local, community pharmacists will still dispense medications but they can now have access to and triage patients to specialty care teams. This advancement will eventually grow into community-based pharmacies providing a greater range of primary and even urgent care services. Ultimately community-based pharmacies are becoming a new ‘Health Hub’ and pharmacists are the front-door to a new health system to triage against a spoke-and-hub model of care delivery.” Furthermore, MakoRx is built on a flexible, secure technology stack allowing them to be more agile and innovative than traditional health systems. As Vinay explained, “We are technology agnostic – we want to use whatever is best-in-class and are constantly iterating every day to evaluate and deploy the current, best-in-class solutions.”

Vinay continued that the current, Wall Street mentality of Big Box pharmacies and healthcare systems – namely to extract as much profit as possible – is the reason “we are all so frustrated with the current set-up in healthcare. The low-value model currently in place creates a complex insurance nightmare which can result in unexpectedly high costs and confusion among patients and providers.” Thus, MakoRx was designed around a core value proposition – a Main Street model and cost-plus pricing – to utilize local, independent community pharmacies and eliminate the worry of relying on mail-in pharmacies and their coagulation with insurance companies. And, ultimately, this is why MakoRx and their partners advocate so vociferously for local, community-based pharmacies, which have the needs of local residents and communities at heart.

Many thanks to Vinay for the captivating discussion, to our sponsor MMCi for their continued support, and to our audience for their passionate participation. DHIT continues to be amazed by our dedicated community of partners whose presence and lively conversation create a wonderful and dynamic atmosphere for our events to thrive. It is only with collaboration and purposeful intent that we can continue to drive the digital health needle forward and make North Carolina the center for health, wealth, and innovation.

P.S. Registration is now open for the March edition of our popular Happy Hour series! The DHIT team will be traveling to the Warehouse District of Raleigh Founded in downtown Raleigh to coalesce around another burgeoning digital health topic. See you there for some tasty bites, cold drinks, and more thought-provoking discussion. Click here to register!

Talk soon