This article is sponsored by Enclara Pharmacia. In this Voices interview, Hospice News sits down with Mark Morse, Chief Executive Officer, Enclara Pharmacia, to talk about the role of technology in Enclara’s value proposition. He explains how Enclara helps providers improve care delivery even though it isn’t a patient-facing organization, and he also walks through some of the top challenges facing hospice patients today with steps providers can take to overcome them.
Hospice News: What career experiences do you most draw from, in your role today?
Mark Morse: My professional journey began with various roles in technology and operations, which gave me a strong foundation in health care innovation. This background allowed me to transition into sales, account management, PBM and pharmacy operations.
One particular experience has had a lasting impact on me: During my time running call centers, my phone number somehow became available on the internet. As a result, I started receiving phone calls from Medicare members, often seeking assistance on issues that I couldn’t directly resolve. Despite this, I made it a point to call them back personally instead of forwarding their messages to a triage team. Engaging with these individuals and listening to their concerns became a significant source of inspiration and, ultimately, innovation. This experience deeply resonated with me as it highlighted the importance of empathy and listening to customers.
How does technology fit into the Enclara value proposition?
Our ultimate goal is to assist hospices in delivering the highest quality care while maintaining efficiency and sustainability. We often tell our clients, “You deliver the care, we make it easier.” Our focus is on optimizing workflows for clinicians, allowing them to spend more valuable time with their patients.
To achieve this, we maintain comprehensive interfaces that seamlessly integrate with over a dozen electronic health record platforms. Additionally, we provide our own mobile and web-based application, E3 Pro™, which facilitates mail order and local medication access, providing an all-in-one solution to consolidate workflows and improve efficiency. Hospice nurses really appreciate the fact that E3 Pro was designed specifically for their needs, so that’s something we’re really proud of.
Enclara talks a lot about nurse experience. What does that look like, and how does Enclara help?
Our approach begins with a strong focus on nurses and engaging in meaningful conversations to understand their needs. We have established an exclusive online nurse community where we actively seek feedback from nurses regarding their experience with Enclara’s tools and resources. Their insights help us know what is working and identify areas for improvement.
Enclara also makes it easy for nurses to access any support they might need in a timely manner, not only from our contact center but throughout the organization. Everyone at Enclara understands the challenges hospice nurses face in their demanding roles and the importance of demonstrating empathy in every interaction.
A great nurse experience helps ensure a great patient experience, but it also impacts a hospice’s bottom line in ways you might not expect. Traditionally, hospices have primarily looked to pharmacy partners like Enclara to manage only drug costs and we do a great job with that. However, nurse recruitment and retention efforts have become a huge cost center for hospices. Recruiting and training just one nurse can run north of $50,000. Considering how much of a hospice nurse’s job is medication management, their interactions with Enclara play a big part in their overall job satisfaction. Our goal is for the Enclara experience to be a reason nurses choose one of our hospice partners over other employers. We’re also very much aware that everything we do ultimately impacts patient care.
You mention patient care, but Enclara isn’t primarily a patient-facing organization. How do you connect the dots?
While we don’t have direct patient interactions, patients remain our top priority. When we are making any kind of business decision, our first consideration is how it might affect patient care.
Timely and reliable medication access is at the core of our focus. Unfortunately, we have observed retail pharmacies reducing their support hours and locations, and some are becoming less willing to provide essential pain medications that hospice patients rely on. To address this issue, we prioritize strategic partnerships and relationships with local pharmacies, particularly in high-volume and underserved markets.
We strive to be a dependable partner to local pharmacies to help ensure that patients receive the necessary support and access to urgently needed medications. We have also continued investing in our mail-order dispensing capabilities. This enables hospices nationwide to rely on next-day access to critical hospice medications. Interestingly, clients who previously showed little interest in mail-order options are now recognizing its power in managing the delivery of non-urgent medications.
By approaching medication access from both local and mail-order perspectives, we aim to bridge gaps in areas where access to specific medications or nearby pharmacies may be limited. A good example of that is in the New York City metro area where our subsidiary, Avanti Health, recently launched infusion services. That wasn’t necessarily an area we would have pursued in the past, but with many of the larger providers no longer prioritizing the hospice market, we saw a need we could address.
Lastly, I want to reiterate the significance of our contact center operations. When our pharmacists and technicians engage with doctors or nurses, their primary focus is to support the patient’s well-being. Clinicians depend on Enclara for guidance on treating tough symptoms and help with deprescribing, dose conversions and other patient needs. In that sense, we are crucial members of the hospice interdisciplinary team.
What are some of the challenges you’re hearing from hospices today?
When it comes to areas where hospices are looking to Enclara, I would say personnel shortages and medication access are top concerns and we are addressing those through our focus on the nurse experience and investments in our pharmacy networking and mail order fulfillment. Looking ahead, another significant opportunity for hospices lies in promoting equity as both employers and healthcare providers. Hospices that prioritize creating a diverse and inclusive work environment are more likely to thrive in the competitive labor market. A diverse staff is also essential when reaching out to traditionally underserved populations. Hospices that get this right can help close the racial and wealth gaps in hospice utilization and experience substantial growth.
You’ve described several initiatives at Enclara to support hospices and their patients. What else are you working on?
Our business intelligence dashboard currently offers comprehensive insights at every level of a hospice organization. Through collaboration, our teams assist hospices in understanding their expenditure patterns, identifying trends, and evaluating their performance. To further enhance patient care and minimize waste, we are integrating predictive analytics to anticipate patient needs and provide the most timely and appropriate symptom management possible.
As the leading hospice PBM, our hospice utilization data is really representative of the market as a whole. There isn’t a lot of quantitative research in the hospice world so we see both an opportunity and a responsibility to leverage the information we have to identify trends and promote best practices in patient care and operations. That’s a benefit for our clients, of course, but also a way we can help elevate the entire hospice community.
In a couple of words, finish this sentence: “In the hospice industry, 2023 has been defined by…”
…a return to growth.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CTA: As the nation’s leading pharmacy services provider and PBM for the hospice and palliative care community, Enclara Pharmacia ensures timely and reliable medication access in any care setting through a comprehensive network of retail and institutional pharmacies, a national patient-direct dispensing program and dedicated inpatient services. To learn more, visit www.enclarapharmacia.com.
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected].