Pharmacy ’Cats: Connecting the Dots

‘It’s a great teaching environment for the students.’

By:
Tim Vanderpool, Jacob Chinn photo

In 2013, Fletcher McCusker ’74 started Sinfonía Healthcare, coalescing a leadership team thick with Wildcats, from UA nursing-school graduate Danielle Sipe ’95 — now Sinfonía’s director of clinical services — to the company’s chief medical officer, Christian Moher ’95, who earned his medical degree at the UA College of Medicine. 

“All of us have significant connections to the UA,” McCusker says. “So many of us are alumni, and part of our interest was maintaining a relationship with the UA College of Pharmacy.”

Enter Kevin Boesen ’96, clinical professor and founder of the Medication Management Center in the UA’s College of Pharmacy. Created to serve clients nationwide, the center’s business model and cutting-edge software proved so effective that, in 2013, they were licensed to McCusker’s Sinfonía Healthcare. Boesen’s vision became SinfoníaRx, where he now serves as CEO. 

With 100 UA pharmacy students employed at SinfoníaRx, and more than 50 other students engaged through educational programming, the learning potential is terrific, Boesen says. “It’s a great teaching environment for the students, and it allows for great research collaboration.” 

“Part of the value of what we’ve done is allowing the University to continue research in the pharmacy space,”McCusker says. “It allows them to place interns and graduate students into medication management centers.”

The University receives royalties from Sinfonía for use of its software and business model, and Sinfonía gains the expertise of the Medication Management Center, which remains within the College of Pharmacy.

 “We knew, from a design standpoint, that the way we could have a broad reach for patients would be the call center model,” Bosen says. “I also wanted to build on our Health Outcomes and PharmacoEconomic Research Center, because the faculty in that center really supports a lot of innovative health-outcome research.” 

 And it provides a much-needed service. McCusker estimates that incorrect medications and dosages add $200 billion annually to America’s health care costs. SinfoníaRx aims to rectify that, in what McCusker describes as “a very unique relationship between the public and private sector and the University.” 

In its first year, Sinfonía has landed contracts with more than 300 health plans representing five million patients nationwide. That just goes to show that brilliant ideas at the UA — and precisely managed collaborations with the private sector — rarely go to waste.