Catalyst Health Solutions: David T. Blair, CEO

by HCE Exchange on August 19, 2010

In today’s economy, cutting costs is at the top of every business’s to-do list. One area that can take a big chunk out of a company budget is employee prescription plans. Of course, medicine is not a benefit that can just be cut and slashed indiscriminately. That’s where a pharmacy benefits management company can come to be a lifesaver. Catalyst Health Solutions is just such a company. But, unlike its three larger competitors, Catalyst elects to take a different path specializing in personalized solutions and innovative ideas.

The company, which was founded in 1997 and became public two years later, has been enjoying growing revenues. In fact, finding ways to help companies save has become a very profitable business for the company with 37% growth in the past few years. Each year since the company began, Catalyst has been able to add to its client base and revenue stream and is currently branching out to service a more diverse clientele, including state and local governments, unions and hospitals.

Going Local

David T. Blair is the CEO at Catalyst. He points out three major features that make the company stand out from its larger competitors. The first is an emphasis on localizing. “We believe health care is delivered locally and we support our clients on a local level. We are going to have clinical pharmacists and account managers right there near the clients so we’re always coming up with customized solutions in the local market.” For example, Blair says a plan that works in Las Vegas might not be useful in South Carolina and what works in hospitals might be the wrong solution for a company in the manufacturing arena. “We don’t take a one size fits all approach to clients.” Catalyst has in fact scored very well on the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute survey for the customized solutions year after year.

With 500 clients across the country, mostly in 15 highly concentrated markets, Catalyst has staff meeting on a weekly to monthly basis with companies in order to better understand what their needs are at any given time. For instance, a hospital wanted to install an on-site pharmacy for its employees to take advantage of the hospital’s pharmaceutical pricing. “We assisted in establishing the unit and increased pharmacy utilization from 30% to 71%. This resulted in huge savings for the hospital. You only understand that when you meet with someone on a regular basis.”

In fact, Catalyst was recognized for the local work it did with physicians in Louisiana. Here, Catalyst reached out directly to prescribing doctors to discuss drug choices and the options available to them. Many times Catalyst was able to work out a more cost-effective solution that the doctors could choose to use in the future.

Imaginative Solutions

This leads to the second difference, which is innovation and a philosophy of getting creative when it comes to seeking solutions to benefits plans. “With the current economic climate in our country,” says Blair, “our clients are looking for immediate relief on their pharmacy costs. We have developed a number of innovative approaches to help them address those costs, such as a more aggressive benefit plan design, better use of over the counter products and the utilization of various local programs.” Blair cites the current trend of free antibiotic offers from grocery stores as a program that was being overlooked in many areas, but which resulted in savings for companies. “A lot of programs already exist; companies just need to be able to take advantage of them. These ideas offer solutions without any disruption to medication schedules or compromising of care.”

Crystal Clear Communication

The third area of distinction is transparency and full disclosure to clients. Blair says that this is important for companies dealing with so many moving pieces in their respective industries. To give companies the best results, Catalyst invested in data analysis software that allows for real-time information delivery. Developed in-house, the software serves two main purposes: to keep track of employee compliance and to point out cost-saving opportunities. “This system can be adopted or adapted to whatever system our client has; we can modify to accommodate particular insurance and HMO clients, as well.”

Recipe for Success

Blair says there is no one thing that has made Catalyst the success that it is. Instead, he offers up a combination of positive points that when brought together, can begin to illustrate Catalyst’s outline for growth.  As a service company with more than 800 employees, Blair says it’s important to hire the best and brightest folks. “It’s all about identifying those account managers and pharmacists who want to make a difference and work with our clients.” With such major competition, Catalyst counts on client retention to act as a springboard to expansion. “Clients are thrilled with the results they are seeing in cost trends and they want to stay with us. This attracts other clients and right now with the economy the way it is, this is a service that many companies desperately need.”

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