Rx for Consumerism

May 1, 2005

His story sounds like it's taken from a Norman Rockwell painting. President of RxEOB, Robert Oscar, RPh, grew up living next door to a gentleman who owned a local drugstore.

After graduating from high school, Oscar headed off to Ohio Northern University with his sights set on majoring in accounting and being a football star. But during his freshman year, memories of that neighborhood drugstore stayed with him. "I wanted to own a little drugstore," Oscar says.

The following semester, with help from his college career counselors, he decided to enroll in pharmacy school. However, he wanted to ensure that nostalgia didn't cloud his decision to move forward with this new focus. "When I thought about pharmacy, I was thinking about baseball cards and magazines, not the intense clinical training," Oscar says. "Then I found myself in chemistry class scratching my head about what I was learning."

"That was probably the best training I could have ever hoped for to learn about pharmacy, home healthcare and durable medical equipment. That was the beginning of when stores were being computerized, and I learned a lot about the business and billing processes and long-term care," Oscar says.

It was at this time that Oscar decided to try his hand as director of home infusion and outpatient pharmacy services for Bon Secours Health System, a Catholic healthcare system based in Marriottsville, Md.

"It was interesting to learn about the integrated delivery system model and working in a for-profit subsidiary within a not-for-profit company," he says. "I really felt at home in an environment that recognized the role of ethical leadership and stewardship in making sure that resources were available to provide-as the [Bon Secours] corporate motto states-'good help to those in need.'"

A turning point for Oscar was when he purchased a textbook on structured query language and began to understand the thought processes of database administrators. "I'll never be a competent programmer, but it is important to know how to ask a question correctly so that it is understood by those that must produce the output," Oscar says.

In 1988, Oscar founded RxEOB, a provider of consumer-directed pharmacy benefit software for health plans. "The company's mission is to improve pharmacy care, improve transparency and control the cost of providing a pharmacy benefit," Oscar says. "Turning information around and allowing patients to understand their choices-and know how much their choices cost them-is critical to build a consumer market. Only a consumer market provides the necessary downward pressure on inflation in a pharmacy business and upward pressure on quality as defined by patients/customers."

Q. What do you think about the importation of drugs from neighboring countries or the physical border crossings some Americans are making to acquire them?