Helping members keep prescription drugs affordable

When he isn’t at work, Express Scripts Canada pharmacist Edwin Ho has one priority: spending as much time as he can with his family.

“Pretty much everything revolves around my wife, our two kids and our dog. Aside from taking care of pharmacy members, it’s about making sure that I take care of my family—making sure they’re always happy and that we’re a unified team. Our kids are four and one, so they keep us pretty busy.”

Edwin enjoys snowboarding and golfing with friends, but his greatest pleasure is just making his kids smile, he says. “It could be just joking around at the house, or going to the park or the aquarium.”

At work, he has a similarly singular focus: his members’ health.

Edwin says he was drawn to the profession because pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals. “In addition to being the medication experts, we can treat minor conditions and quickly assess a condition and refer patients to a physician or other healthcare professionals to make sure that they are cared for. Our professional judgement is trusted and I am very proud of that fact. I take care of our members as I would my own family.”

The Express Scripts Canada Pharmacy approach provides opportunities for a different level of service, he notes. Rather than waiting for patients to come in, as is typical within most retail settings, “we are very proactive in the way we take care of our members’ health. It is a concierge-style service.”

For example, when members join the pharmacy, Edwin and his team first optimize their prescription refills. “This way, it becomes a lot more cost effective for not only the member but their employer too.

“We are also improving their ability to stay on track with their doctor’s instructions. We don’t want our members to stockpile their medications unnecessarily, but we don’t want them to run out either, so we send out medications a week or two before they need them. If necessary, we’ll reach out to their physicians to obtain a new prescription.”

With all of the different insurance plans and types of coverage in the market, pharmacists have an essential role to play in minimizing their out-of-pocket expenses as well as making sure members have the best medication for their chronic condition, explains Edwin.

Read: A day in the life of an Express Scripts Canada pharmacist

He points to medications for excess stomach acid as an example. “There are close to a dozen medications in that class, with huge price variances between them. If a member is using something that is very costly, we can reach out to the physician (with their permission), and ensure that more cost-effective therapies have been considered. We also ensure the clinical effectiveness of alternatives and that the member is comfortable using that type of therapy.

“In that way, we can have cost savings for the member and their plan—along with the best overall health outcomes.”