Maria Kossilos, Associate Chief Pharmacy Officer, Cambridge Health Alliance

Maria Kossilos

Q: Where did you complete your professional training?

I graduated with an Honours Bachelor’s of Science from York University in Toronto, Canada in 1997 and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 2001 and have completed a number of corporate management and leadership programs.

Q: Where do you live?

I live in Swampscott, Massachusetts, in Boston’s North Shore but I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada.

Q: If a friend came to visit you, where would you take them?

If a friend came to visit me I would take them to all the picturesque seaside communities along the North Shore which are filled with unique art, shops and fine dining restaurants.  I would also give them a tour of historical Salem so they can visit the various landmarks and especially the sites where the famous witchcraft trials of the 1600’s took place.

Q: Tell us about your health care facility.

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is a vibrant, innovative health system dedicated to providing equity and excellence for everyone, every time. With over 140,000 patients in Boston’s metro-north region, CHA is proud to offer the health care people need most in their lives.  As a safety net provider, our “Care to the People” slogan symbolizes our commitment to everyone in our communities, period. Key clinical services include primary care, behavioral health, emergency care, surgery and specialty care, hospital care, maternity, pharmacy, and state-of-the-art testing services. These are offered at convenient neighborhood locations. The CHA Pharmacy Enterprise includes three inpatient pharmacies, four retail pharmacies including one specialty pharmacy, a PACE pharmacy, pharmacotherapy services (clinical pharmacists embedded in 15 ambulatory clinics performing chronic drug therapy management), and a PGY-1 pharmacy residency program.

Q: What are some concrete examples of how your facility has benefitted from the 340B program?

Our healthcare system has benefitted from the 340B program by improving outpatient and specialty pharmacy services.  We recognized and identified a number of prescription access issues that were negatively impacting patient care. These included problems such as high copayments/deductibles, insurance obstacles and problems patients were experiencing with navigating complex healthcare systems (refill request, communication problems).  We developed a centralized process that hubbed all ambulatory refill requests and built in efficiency with prescription refill turn around time and benefit review including completion of prior authorizations. We developed and implemented charity care policies and procedures to address patient financial burdens and assist them with high copayments/deductibles.  We interface with all our ambulatory clinics and have improved prescription access for all our patients.

Q: What makes you most proud of your work and your organization?

My organization has a very simple vision:  Equity and Excellence for Everyone, Every Time.  Our mission is to improve the healthcare of our communities and we specialize in the care of complex and underserved populations.  Primary Care and Behavioral Health services are key areas of focus. I believe in both our vision and mission and I see the value that we add to our communities on a daily basis. Many of our patients would not be able to access healthcare without safety net providers like Cambridge Health Alliance.

Q: How has your facility benefitted from the services of your 340B vendors/contractors?

Our healthcare system has benefitted from the services of our 340B vendor/contractors by stretching our 340B savings so that we can propagate our community outreach programs which includes care for the homeless, sexual reproductive health, a robust ambulatory behavioral health service line and prescription drug access for all.

Q: What advice do you have for 340B covered entities or staff that are new to the program?

The advice I have for 340B covered entities or staff that are new to the program is to familiarize yourself with the history of the 340B program and work with a consulting firm that specializes in 340B but will not take over the management of your operations.  Work with someone who will guide you through the program but is invested in the value it adds and your success.  Finally, networking with leaders in healthcare who can give you insight in 340B will also be helpful in establishing a successful program.


Click here to learn more about Cambridge Health Alliance.

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