Olevia J. Brown, MBA, CPhT
Pharmacy Service Manager, Harris Health System, Houston
Olevia J. Brown, MBA, CPhT, taught math for five years in Houston, earned an MBA and worked with Cardinal Healthcare before she joined Harris Health System in 2005. There she used her financial background to handle pharmacy inventory, contract compliance, budgeting and invoicing reconciliation within the pharmacy department as she worked her way up to pharmacy service manager, becoming a CPhT along the way in 2008.
Harris Health System is committed to providing free or replacement medication to its indigent patients. For more than 10 years, that service was outsourced. When reimbursements declined and several valuable contracts were lost, Olevia made a case for creating an in-house Drug Replacement Program (DRP) to streamline operations, improve service, and increase savings. In FY11, the last fiscal year of the outsourced program, reimbursement was $5 million. As an internal department, DRP’s goal was to receive at least $8 million in FY12. At the end of the year, it had far exceeded that goal, achieving $17.5 million in cost savings. “Our success was due in large part to the excellent work or our staff of dynamic CPhTs,” says Olevia.
Harris’ patients who are both charity and self-pay can benefit from the internal DRP program. Harris helps with medication needs in two ways. 1) For 40 percent of its cases, DRP negotiates bulk contracts with pharmaceutical companies to reimburse drugs. After the medication is dispensed to a qualified patient, DRP submits data to the companies to receive replacement drugs at no additional cost. 2) For the other 60 percent, DRP enrolls patients in patient assistance programs (PAPs) so they receive free medications directly to their homes.
“The new internal DRP is more adaptable to our patients’ needs,” says Olevia. “I understand that our patient population has a lot of concern about being ill and lacking health coverage. Eliminating their worries about payment for prescriptions is the most rewarding part of my current position.” Olevia oversees a department of 19 full-time employees who are CPhTs. They find qualified patients and enroll them in the PAP. The staff initiates the application, obtains physician signatures, gathers the supporting documentation and receives inventory. Olevia’s position requires heavy interaction with hospital staff, patients, drug manufacturers and Harris’ senior leadership.
In December 2012, Olevia was recognized as a company “Innovator” for her team’s success in transitioning the DRP to an internal department and achieving remarkable cost savings. Olevia created a poster abstract for the 2011 ASHP Midyear Meeting, entitled “Internalizing a Patient Assistance Program in a County Hospital System.”