Tabula Rasa HealthCare: From Start-up to Case Study

Tabula Rasa HealthCare, based in Moorestown, N.J., recently participated in the Mid-Atlantic Health Care IT Forum 2019 in Philadelphia, hosted by Pepper Hamilton LLP in partnership with the Philadelphia Health IT Circle, and served as a role model and case study for early-stage healthcare technology ventures. Brian Litten, Tabula Rasa’s chief strategy growth officer, presented at the conference. ComputerTalk checked in with him for details and to find out what’s next for the company.

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ComputerTalk: Brian, Tabula Rasa is a publicly traded company, and quite a success story for venture investing in the Philadelphia area. Clearly, you brought a valuable story to tell the early-stage companies at the conference.

Brian Litten: Yes, we did. The main purpose of the conference was to showcase new healthcare technology and to serve as a forum for early-stage businesses to make their case to potential venture investors. Two of the investors participating on the panel were in fact early-stage investors for Tabula Rasa, and we all thought it would be a great opportunity to show what a business could look like at the other side of the IPO process, and share our success story with the participants attending the program.

CT: And you haven’t been resting on your laurels. Tabula Rasa has been very active in acquiring other healthcare tech companies that are a strategic fit. What are some of the recent acquisition highlights?

Brian Litten Tabula Rasa HealthCare
Brian Litten

Litten: We have been very active and focused on elevating the role of the pharmacist across multiple care settings, made possible by the acquisition of different capabilities throughout the care continuum. Some recent acquisition highlights include the acquisition that we completed in September of 2017 of SinfoníaRx. SinfoníaRx is the largest independent provider of medication therapy management solutions. SinfoníaRx allows us to take our medication risk identification and mitigation technology, MedWise, and introduce it very rapidly across a network of pharmacist call centers throughout the country. The SinfoníaRx call centers are associated with schools of pharmacy at the University of Arizona, the University of Texas at Austin, and The Ohio State University. Those call centers make 5 million patient and prescriber calls a year, so being able to work with SinfoníaRx is a way of accelerating the delivery of medication risk mitigation services to a larger population.

Tabula Rasa has also expanded into the hospital and community pharmacy markets through its recent acquisitions of DoseMeRx and PrescribeWellness, respectively. DoseMeRx precision dosing software enables hospitals to customize the dose of parenteral, or intravenous, medications for each patient, resulting in improvements to mortality, risk, and outcomes; it also saves hours of pharmacists’ time performing manual calculations. And just this past March, we completed our acquisition of PrescribeWellness, a leading cloud-based patient relationship management solutions company for community pharmacies. By integrating MedWise into the PrescribeWellness platforms, we are able to employ our medication risk mitigation solution in nearly 11,000 community pharmacies across the country. There are 275 million patients in the United States living within five miles of a PrescribeWellness pharmacy, so we have ample opportunity to advance patient care and optimize the safety and efficacy of medication regimens through our call center pharmacists and trusted community pharmacists, who are now equipped to have more informed face-to-face discussions with patients nationwide.

CT: You’ve also launched something new in-house, your Scientific Precision Pharmacotherapy Research & Development Institute. How is that driving your strategy?

Litten: Tabula Rasa’s technology delivers very complex scientific algorithms that involve pharmacy principles related to pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. It’s all protected by patents, but we will never rest on the science that we’ve developed. We’re continually investing in research and development of new tools and solutions to optimize medication regimens to improve patient outcomes, reduce utilization of healthcare services, lower healthcare costs, and manage risk.

The Scientific Precision Pharmacotherapy Research & Development Institute is a case in point. It’s an investment that aims to help us go beyond the tools that we provide to our clients.

CT: Getting back to the forum, what was some of the specific wisdom you were able to impart to those early-stage companies?

Litten: Tabula Rasa’s success comes from our deeply rooted corporate culture. The significant investment we’ve made in a healthy corporate culture has really been a significant driver in our success. So much so that when we evaluate companies to invest in or to acquire, we consider how their culture fits with ours even before we begin traditional due diligence around, for example, contracts and addressable market and revenues and so forth. So that was one thing we really emphasized at the forum, and I think that was eye-opening for the participants.

CT: I understand that Tabula Rasa is also expanding its offerings internationally. This is interesting, because healthcare goals are the same around the world, but how care is provided is often quite different from how we do things in the United States.

Litten: Tabula Rasa’s mission is to prevent and resolve the pervasive problem of adverse drug events, which are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and contribute to negative and expensive episodes of care for patients, their families, and those who pay for care in the system. What we’ve realized through research is that this problem is not just an American problem. The problem of adverse drug events exists across the world. Through established relationships, and largely through academic networks, we began exploring opportunities in single-payer countries where there are a number of documented studies on adverse drug events and a willingness of the healthcare community to understand and address the problem. We began working with an organization in Portugal last year to launch a program in a hospital outside of Lisbon, and we just recently hosted a delegation from Hong Kong to discuss collaborating to address the same problem there.

CT: Let’s wrap up with your thoughts on the direction that technology innovation is taking right now to support pharmacy practice.

Litten: I’m glad I have an opportunity to speak to this for a minute, because this did come up in the conference too. There were questions asked about the changing landscape of pharmacy with players like Amazon moving into the medication-dispensing business through their acquisition of PillPack. As the landscape for dispensing medications changes — and I think it certainly will continue to consolidate and change — community pharmacies need to reinvent themselves. They will need to move from measuring their success by how quickly they’re filling prescriptions and how much revenue they’re generating from dispensing medications to providing value through clinical work that supports patient health. Our technology solutions exist to support pharmacists in practicing at the top of their license and to give them the means to provide clinical services to patients, collaborate with prescribers, and be incorporated into the primary care team. I think that we’re at the beginning of a dramatic change in the way pharmacy is practiced in the United States, and I think that we’re going to see pharmacies struggling to reinvent themselves as dispensing becomes commoditized and more payers and providers adopt a value-based approach to care. We believe that the sustainability of pharmacies will come from using technologies like ours that provide robust clinical services to help efficiently address the problem of adverse drug events and improve the healthcare of patients. CT