Healthcare digital transformation: An interview with Sofiane Sirajeddine from Magellan Rx

by: | Mar 2, 2022

One thing I love about our work is that, with every digital product we build, we’re surfacing valuable information for people who want it right when they need it. And in the case of our most recent app, that information can literally change lives.

I’m so proud of our work with Magellan Rx Management, a pharmacy benefits organization that is leading healthcare digital transformation. Together, we built the Magellan Rx app, an application that simplifies pharmacy benefit management (PBM) by providing real-time prescription information at the moment people need it most.

The Magellan Rx app helps members truly understand their pharmacy benefits and options. From detailed clinical information about prescriptions to transparent pricing filters, the app is designed to better explain pharmacy benefits.

We’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Sofiane Sirajeddine, senior director of digital transformation for Magellan. His passion for solving this problem — providing information transparency to Magellan Rx members — is contagious and inspired our team throughout the project.

“Having a mobile app like this puts information right in front of the members, reducing unnecessary calls to the contact center and to customer benefits departments because the members get the information they need in real-time.”

I recently had a conversation with Sof to understand more about what fuels his motivation. We talked a lot about the challenges of healthcare digital transformation in the PBM industry.

We started by talking about what apps he really enjoys. As a big fan of soccer, he explained why he loves the Premier League fantasy app. It turns out, the thing he loves most about it — “the flow of information” — related directly to the problem he was trying to solve with the Magellan Rx app.

What does the Premier League fantasy app do well?

The flow of information. And they also present pretty cool data. Being the soccer nerd that I am, I always like to look at numbers. They provide great depth when it comes to data and how teams and players are performing.

From an app performance standpoint, it’s incredible because they have literally millions of users around the world. The flow, the user experience — everything is seamless. They should be proud of their app.

Is there anything that you learned from it that you applied to Magellan Rx app?

Yes. The importance of live data, live information, and making sure it’s accurate, timely, and secure. Especially for us being in healthcare. People may be using our app when they’re in front of pharmacists or leaving a doctor’s office — and getting prescription information in a timely manner is key. It’s similar to how when you look at the score of a live game or your fantasy performance, you want to know what’s going on right now. So, surfacing accurate, real-time information is something we try to apply to our own products.

With mobile, we’re all pretty conditioned to ‘I need it right now.’

There was a time when it would take days, weeks, or months to find information. You’d have to go to the library and find a book about a topic. And now we live in a world where data and information need to be available anytime, anywhere. That’s what we expect. We want to live up to that in our own products. It’s great to have fantastic screen designs and a UX flow that makes sense. But at the end of the day, if the data is not there at any given time, then we miss our target.

Is that instant information something that’s been lacking in healthcare?

100%. Timely data is a big issue. More often than not, after you go to your doctor or go to your pharmacist and pick up some meds, you receive an EOB (explanation of benefits) from your insurer weeks later. But at that point, what are you going to do with that information? We want to provide that information right when you need it — such as when you leave your surgery and need to understand your prescription options at that moment.

Because there’s a real financial aspect to it, right? Recently a member of my family got a new prescription. We picked it up only to find out later it wasn’t covered in our plan, but an equivalent was. If we had known up-front, we could have saved a lot.

Yes, and what if you were not able to pay for that prescription at that point in time? Unfortunately, that’s the case for millions of Americans. They may not have $100 or $1,000 to pay for a prescription. And it’s hard to understand why something is not being covered. At least you were able to get that prescription and ultimately get access to care. But for a lot of people, unfortunately, their journey ends there. They can’t afford the medications they were prescribed and don’t know there may be other options.

Our primary goal is to make sure that all our members get the care that they need. And if we can provide a much better option to them, a less expensive one, something that is covered, we will.

What is your charter as senior director of digital transformation?

To make sure that we provide the right information for our members so that they can take meaningful action that gives them access to care. We’re in a world where everything is digitized. Technology is cheaper and easier to manage than it’s ever been. And, I’m making this sound simpler than it really is, but how can we utilize technology and digital channels to really fulfill that goal?

We look at every user journey across the services that we deliver. Digital transformation is about applying technology to make those experiences as seamless as possible to remove barriers that may prevent patients from taking the medications they need.

What’s the state of healthcare digital transformation?

Just compare your experience of booking a flight versus scheduling an MRI. Unless your providers have modern digital tools, some are writing and faxing paper prescriptions, making it difficult to have the information needed prior to visiting your pharmacy. This gives us plenty of opportunities to improve the healthcare experience.

And that’s a pretty cool thing. We developed this app because any minor improvement we make can directly impact someone’s life, someone’s health. And we have plenty of opportunities to utilize technology and help make everybody’s lives better and healthier.

How hard is it to build a digital product with all the healthcare regulations?

Protecting our members’ data is our top priority. Fortunately, with the evolution of cloud technology, it’s becoming simpler to make sure applications are compliant. Now, companies are moving more of their services to compliant cloud providers that make the challenge manageable.

What are the biggest opportunities that digital offers pharmacy benefit managers?

Direct communication to members is the biggest area of opportunity. Details about prescription prices and clinical information such as drug-drug interactions and side effects are all things that members should have access to in the palm of their hand.

It’s that direct-to-consumer communication that was the primary reason for building an app — to meet our members where they are on their healthcare journey.

So, do your customers (the companies) think of digital services, like an app, as more of a check-the-box item or a cost savings?

There is a shift in mindset happening and clients are starting to understand the value for them and their employees.

Having a mobile app like this puts information right in front of the members, reducing unnecessary calls to the contact center and to customer benefits departments because the members get the information they need in real-time through the app. It provides more direct access to care and education for the members. It’s very early, but we are measuring customer success and how members are enjoying the app because they now have self-service access to information.

I know accessibility was super important to you. Why?

Personally, I want to make sure we’re reaching a broad and diverse member base. That’s challenging because you have people that are comfortable navigating 30 or 40 apps on their cell phones, and then you have the aging population, who may not be as comfortable with apps. It’s the latter group who may be living alone and need it the most. We wanted to make sure that our design is accessible for virtually everyone. To satisfy those different needs, we made accessible app design a priority – right from the start.

If you had to pick one thing, what are you most proud of the app?

Offering a tool that looks like 2022. The look and feel is one of the things that I’m the proudest of. And that’s important because people put more trust in you when the product solves problems and looks professional.

Why did you look to an outside agency for help in building the Magellan Rx app?

In our industry, it’s very difficult to find highly skilled people in user experience and product management for apps. I wanted a partner that could help us solve our UX challenges, as well as build a product that is secure, scalable, and lovable. That combination of skills makes ArcTouch unique. We wanted a developer that thinks about the customers first. We found what we were looking for with ArcTouch.

Well, our team has loved working with you. What’s it been like to work with ArcTouch on a day-to-day basis?

For one, ArcTouch team members really care about the product. The ArcTouch team fully immersed themselves early on in understanding the PBM industry, and the experience we want to deliver to our customers and members. They are constantly coming up with ideas, looking at data to back up the decisions that we make, and helping us figure it out. They identify critical gaps that we’re trying to solve for and come up with creative solutions — constantly wanting to improve — and being flexible at any given time.

So it’s a combination of all that. Most importantly, I feel like ArcTouch is not an outside group but part of our team at Magellan Rx. ArcTouch feels a sense of ownership for the product we’re building just as much as we do, and that’s huge. Really huge.

Thanks so much for your time Sof!

About ArcTouch

ArcTouch has been designing and developing lovable apps for companies of all sizes since the dawn of the App Store. Let’s build something awesome together! Contact us to get started.