|HCC and FDS: Finding New Opportunities||| Print ||
|HCC and FDS: Finding New Opportunities||| Print ||
HCC, a long-standing competitor in the pharmacy management software arena, and FDS, a company that's built a presence in the relatively young field of pharmacy data management services, were both recently acquired by Lagniappe Health, a Calvert Street Capital Partners company. In this interview, ComputerTalk Senior Editor Will Lockwood talks with long-time HCC executive Mike McManus, newly appointed president of HCC and FDS, and Lagniappe Health CEO Jake Canova and CIO Peter Fianu about the motivation for the acquisition and what HCC and FDS users and partners can expect.
CT: First, let's meet the new members of the executive team. Jake, Peter - tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Canova: I've been in healthcare for 40 years at this point. I started on the payer side as the state Medicaid director in Louisiana, and ran the program for 14 years. After that I was involved with several different companies with focuses in areas such as benefit management and third-party administration. Among a list of accomplishments, we grew one company from $10 million to $1 billion, brought 10 million members to a PBM, and grew a third-party administrator from 20,000 members to about 500,000 members over three years. I'm very happy to be involved with HCC and FDS. I believe there's a lot we can do to assist the companies in continuing to serve their customers while moving forward with new growth plans.
Fianu: I've been in technology for the last 20 years or so, and in healthcare for the last dozen. I've been CIO of a number of financial services and healthcare companies. And I've consulted for a number of companies in the past. Jake and I crossed paths about 10 years ago when he joined a company where I was CIO.
CT: So you both have a great deal of experience in growing businesses and building out services. Mike, a lot of people in pharmacy already know you, but give us a little background.
McManus: Well, I have over 35 years' experience in healthcare. I got into technology in 1981 when I computerized the family-owned pharmacies. After that I was involved with a number of different healthcare technology companies, until I joined HCC in 1989. From then until 1991, I worked on integrating our acquisition of the original Rx-1 pharmacy system, developing the next software platform, and expanding our offerings in other ways. I came back to the company in 2003 and took on the responsibilities of executive vice president in 2004.
CT: OK. So, what's your primary message about the new ownership for HCC and FDS?
McManus: First it's important to note that both of these companies have strong and loyal customer bases today. They have products that have been proven in the market, that meet the market's needs, and that are adaptable to the market. These strengths are also going to be strengths going forward. It gives us a good platform to build on.
CT: Tell us what that
means in terms of HCC.
McManus: At HCC, one of our guiding principles has always been that we'll continue to support a platform for as long as possible. We aren't going to tell users that they have to change and move to a new product, just because we built it. That is how we built the company, and that's something that we will continue to adhere to for our current platforms and for any we may acquire in the future. Our existing customers may choose to add or move to new technologies we offer for added functionality as it serves their needs.
CT: And for FDS?
McManus: On the FDS side, we've built products that bring new functionality to users, no matter what vendor's pharmacy management system they are on. The goal at FDS has always been to give users the ability to manage their pharmacy business while also providing valuable ancillary services to their patients - without having to change their pharmacy processes or software platforms. That will continue as we move forward.
CT: Where do you see the opportunities out there, Mike?
McManus: I think the opportunities are going to come from being able to leverage the financial strength that Lagniappe Health and Calvert Street bring to us to further the advancement of our existing platforms. We may look to go out and do some acquisitions of companies with supporting platforms. We may look for pharmacy system vendors with ownership that, like Rex [Akers], is looking for a way to retire and move on. Our strategy would be to bring those systems in and support them just like all our others. And as we build or acquire new functionality for FDS, we'll provide these additional services for pharmacies using both HCC's software and software from FDS's many other pharmacy system partners.
CT: On this topic, pharmacy is a data intensive business. What are your strategies for helping pharmacies better manage and use their data?
McManus: One of the things that attracted Calvert Street was the data warehouse product we built using the FDS platform. All of the HCC systems are integrated with this, as well as several other pharmacy management systems from other vendors. This allows pharmacies to have access to data in ways that they have never been able to before. They can analyze data and have audit trails, among other things, that they've never had before. Being able to move and manage their data allows pharmacies to take advantage of programs offered not only by FDS, but by other vendors as well. They can move data into a variety of programs securely.
CT: Jake, what else do Lagniappe Health and Calvert Street see in HCC and FDS?
Canova: One of the things we were very interested in was the increasing focus on outcomes and accountability in the healthcare arena, particularly in pharmacy. In light of this, we were first looking at companies to invest in that were driven by technology. Secondly, they had to have a great customer base. And then they had to have access to meaningful data that could drive the overall goal of improving outcomes. When we looked at HCC and FDS, we saw an opportunity where patients and pharmacists interacted regularly in a technology-rich environment that presented an opportunity to positively impact outcomes in real time, and that really drove our interest.
CT: Peter, you and Jake bring experience from other parts of healthcare to the executive team. What do you see this adding to efforts to help pharmacies use their data better?
Fianu: We do have an interesting perspective, since we've worked a lot on the payer and benefit administration side. We feel like we know what those constituencies are interested in and what the levers are over there. Our ability to leverage the data from the pharmacy to improve patient outcomes is going to be that much more compelling because of this perspective.
CT: How can pharmacy data fit into the conversation about better measuring outcomes and transitioning from paying for procedures to paying instead for the best outcomes?
McManus: There are some simple measures of outcomes that we could accomplish quickly working with our customers and the data they process daily. Let me give you a simple example of this that's actually easy to do, but isn't happening currently. Every time physicians write a script, do they know whether or not the patient filled the script? The answer is no. There's a simple way to do that. Then, do they know if the patient is taking that medication? No. These are relatively simple things to accomplish, and they drive outcomes. Working with our customers as they leverage their data and the ability to process it real time, we are going to see new programs evolve. As the government moves toward a commitment to better patient outcomes, we feel we are in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that come along to apply pharmacy data to improving outcomes.
CT: It also seems like it's going to be critical to make sure pharmacy data is readily integrated with data from across healthcare, and that pharmacies can work with data from other providers. What are the near-term prospects for this?
McManus: I don't know if you can call them near-term prospects, but it's going to happen. I think that pharmacy is the biggest piece that needs to be added, and we've seen people starting to ask about how we can do this. I think it's going to happen, but it's going to be a matter of whether we drive it from the pharmacy side or whether we let someone else drive it. We on the technology side have to make sure we are representing our pharmacy users and enabling them to maintain their patient relationships.
CT: What can individual pharmacists or pharmacy owners do to position for these changes?
McManus: Right now, I'm not sure there's anything more to do than keeping your eyes and ears open and being ready to comment when the opportunity arises. We need more definition around the problem and the possible solutions, but until that comes, pharmacists can remain aware of the trends, participate in industry workgroups, and work with their vendors to determine what they need to serve their patients.
Canova: I think pharmacies are also going to want to consider who their technology partners are. They are going to want to look for companies that have the capabilities to move into the area of connecting pharmacy to other healthcare providers, such as physicians, as the focus shifts to better outcomes for our patients.
CT: Any final thoughts to wrap up the conversation?
McManus: I think our existing customers need to know that any changes we make are going to be to improve the products and services we deliver. We will work to continue to provide excellent customer support while providing them the products they need to serve their patients and grow their businesses. This acquisition was designed to strengthen our companies so that we can continue to serve our customers and to provide the new technologies necessary to move forward.
Canova: From our perspective, we were impressed that the current staff running the companies day to day really wanted to stay - the executives, the marketing and sales staff, and the technology leadership. So customers won't see many changes in the people they work with daily, and we feel that's very important. Our initial focus is improving customer satisfaction by strengthening our service levels to meet our customers' needs before we look at future business growth opportunities. Peter and I focus on making sure that an acquired company's customers are satisfied, since they are what made the company successful.