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Northwell to fill some employee prescriptions in-house; move to save $12M

The health system, with 66,000 employees, has launched a mail-order program for maintenance medications through its Vivo Health Pharmacy. 

Onisis Stefas, Northwell's chief pharmacy officer, at the

Onisis Stefas, Northwell's chief pharmacy officer, at the Vivo Health Pharmacy fulfillment facility in Great Neck on July 20. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Northwell Health has launched a prescription medication mail-order program through its Vivo Health Pharmacy for its 66,000 employees.

Vivo Health is a specialty pharmacy that provides services at many Northwell hospitals and ambulatory facilities, and has a 24-hour clinical call center.

The New Hyde Park-based health system said it is replacing Express Scripts, a mail-order pharmacy, with its own pharmacy to streamline costs and the delivery of medicine for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes. 

Employees can still use neighborhood pharmacies to fill one-off prescriptions.  

Onisis Stefas, Northwell's chief pharmacy officer, said the system plans to save $12 million annually by shifting the services in-house.

"There will also be an expansion of 14 net new jobs because of the conversion," Stefas said. "It's a big ramp-up for us."

The jobs being added include pharmacists, technicians, call-center representatives and customer-care experts, he said.

Vivo will go from filling about 50 prescriptions per day to about 500, Stefas added.

The pharmacy operates eight pharmacies in New York. It also has opened a 15,000-square-foot fulfillment facility at 225 Community Dr. in Great Neck. That location includes two pharmacy robots that prepare more than 340 types of medication.

Stefas said Northwell doesn't plan to build out a brick-and-mortar network to compete with pharmacy chains, although he added Vivo's 8 locations at hospitals, medical centers and ambulatory facilities are open to the public.

Northwell Health is the state's largest private employer, with 23 hospitals, 665 outpatient facilities and more than 18,500 affiliated physicians. 

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