The Doctor, the Pharmacist and Me Correct Rx Pharmacy Services, Inc. champions a holistic approach to health care

By Tiffany R. Jansen April 2017

influencer1-207x300 For most of us, a pharmacist is the person who receives our prescription, counts out the pills and rattles off instructions before handing over the medicine. Once the transaction is complete, we part ways until it’s time to call in the next prescription.

Advocating for a different approach is Dr. Ellen H. Yankellow, president and CEO of Correct Rx Pharmacy Services, Inc., an institutional pharmacy based out of Hanover, Md. She believes pharmacists should play a more active role in health care, working together with patients, practitioners and medical directors to recommend and manage treatment.
“This is really where the pharmacist looks at the entire patient’s profile and makes sophisticated determinations on how to optimize medication therapy,” Dr. Yankellow explains. “Then, the pharmacist will make recommendations to the practitioner about the best way to treat the patient.”

While a doctor knows what medications to recommend for a particular ailment, the pharmacist is the true drug expert. Their involvement is crucial, not just in choosing the right medications, but also the correct combinations and dosages.

Correct Rx has been putting this method into practice since Dr. Yankellow started the company in 2003. During that time, every intervention made by a Correct Rx pharmacist was tracked diligently along with the outcomes of those interventions. The resulting data has helped prove that, in situations where pharmacists are included as part of a holistic interdisciplinary approach to care, patient outcomes improve and health care costs go down.

Patients are better informed on how to take their medications, the importance of taking them as prescribed and potential side effects. They’re less likely to wind up in the hospital or emergency room and the treatments tend to be more effective. “I think we’re the only institutional pharmacy in the country that has truly embraced this [model] and practices it every day,” says Dr. Yankellow.

iinfluencer4 Correct Rx works primarily with correctional facilities, filling prescriptions and assigning each organization a clinical pharmacist to partner with. The company also serves nursing homes, assisted living facilities and residential treatment centers for adults with developmental disabilities. All told, Correct Rx services some 90,000 lives across 42 states.

Patients from these populations typically come in with multiple health issues – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and an infectious disease like Hepatitis C, for example. The practitioner shares this information with the pharmacist and the two professionals work together to devise the best course of therapy for that particular patient.
The company’s recent focus has been on expanding to the private sector. “We realize there’s a great need for this [approach], not just in institutions, but in the general population, to make sure that patients are getting the best results,” Dr. Yankellow says.

Correct Rx has already applied the approach to its roughly 170 employees and their families, “so we have a lot of data to help manage our medications for people who have acute diseases, like asthma, and then for chronic diseases, like pre-diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol,” Dr. Yankellow says.

Dr. Yankellow studied at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, where she earned her bachelor of science and doctor of pharmacy degrees. She started working right out of pharmacy school and, following a long career as a top executive in the industry, left the company she was working for in March of 2003.

Too young to retire and too out of practice to go back to filling prescriptions, Dr. Yankellow decided to start Correct Rx on a whim. “I sat at my kitchen table [with my business partners] and we wrote a business plan, took it to Kinkos, printed it and made appointments with six banks,” Dr. Yankellow recalls.

Only one of those banks was willing to grant them the million-dollar loan they requested, but it was enough to secure the building they’d had their eye on. By May 20, Correct Rx had been licensed in 23 states and on May 25, the company brought on its first 25,000 patients. “It was just a whirlwind and quite a Cinderella story,” Dr. Yankellow says with a chuckle, “In today’s world, I don’t know that we could have done it.”

influencer3-150x150 Aside from her significant footprint on the pharmaceutical industry (Dr. Yankellow is a leader in the advancement of clinical pharmacy services as well one of the nation’s leading women pharmacists), she is probably best known for her philanthropic efforts and community involvement.

She’s the recipient of the Maryland Alzheimer’s Association’s Helen C. Schulze Award, the Maryland Pharmacists Association’s Bowl of Hygeia Award, the Associated Black Charities’ Community Investor Award, and was inducted into the Chimes of Baltimore Hall of Fame. Most recently, she was presented the Exemplary Leadership Award at the
Maryland Alzheimer’s Association’s 10th annual Memory Ball. She also serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. In 2007, Correct Rx received the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Business Philanthropy Award.

“I feel it’s not only a privilege, but an obligation as a business owner to be able to give back and make a difference in the greater community,” she says. To that end, “we’ve started a huge culture within the company of giving back.”

She’s perhaps most proud of her work with the Alzheimer’s Association, where she serves as Chair of Corporate Sponsorship for the Association’s Memory Ball. Since she first came onboard in 2005, the event has transformed from a relatively successful event to one of the state’s leading balls.

Over the past 12 years, the Memory Ball has raised over $6.5 million. “It’s been eye-opening to see the amount of research and awareness that comes out of that,”
Dr. Yankellow says.

She’s also one of the founders and annual sponsors of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women’s Circle of Red in Baltimore. This society of local women is part of a national movement to eradicate heart disease and stroke in women through educational workshops and fundraisers.

“What you do really can make a huge difference in someone else’s life,” she says. “That’s, to me, one of the huge benefits. It just allows you to be able to see your efforts and help.” I95