MVP Health Care, CapitalCare Medical Group, and Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences announce collaboration


CONTACT: Jo Ann LeSage Nelson

mvp capital_carealbanycollege

SCHENECTADY, NY, December 12, 2016
―An innovative partnership among MVP Health Care, CapitalCare Medical Group, and Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS) is taking shape as the organizations work to assess and improve the way medications are utilized by patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Through the partnership, MVP and ACPHS are funding the addition of a clinical pharmacist to the CapitalCare team who is dedicated to serving the needs of patients with chronic illnesses.

The pharmacist, Ali Watson, works with patients to reduce medication errors and help them understand the complexities that occur when several medications are prescribed at once. Together with a multi-disciplinary team, she monitors patients’ medication therapy holistically, with the assistance of the patients’ physicians, based on all the medical conditions present in each individual.

One area of the program’s focus is on patients who have very complex medical regimens. Large numbers of medications can place patients at increased risk for interactions, side effects, and confusion about what they should be taking. In addition, the cost of these medications can be problematic for patients with limited incomes.

For example, one patient with whom Watson consulted had 26 prescribed medications that she took daily. Watson said, “When I met with her in the office she brought all of her medications with her and we reviewed each one so I could explain its purpose and help determine if it was still necessary. Following this review, I was able to work with her primary care practitioner to reduce or discontinue several medications at a cost savings of more than $75 per month. I also contacted her pharmacy to inform the staff there of the changes so they would no longer dispense these medications to her.”

Watson received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from ACPHS and completed a post-doctoral residency in ambulatory care at the Stratton VA Hospital in Albany. She has completed certifications in medication therapy management and pharmacist and patient-centered diabetes care and is a certified immunizing pharmacist in New York. She is also an assistant professor at ACPHS.

“The future of health care depends upon the seamless collaboration of health plans and physicians. This exciting new relationship with CapitalCare and the college has great potential to improve member health and safety through improved medication use,” said Dominick Bizzarro, executive vice president, business development and informatics at MVP.

The concept of embedding a pharmacist in a clinical setting is in line with national efforts, led by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, to improve the appropriate use of medications for conditions like heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure where dramatic improvements could be made.

“It is increasingly clear that the professional expertise of clinical pharmacists working in ambulatory care enables patients and practitioners to achieve the most benefit from pharmacologic treatment. Support from MVP has helped us to provide this important service here at CapitalCare,” said Lou Snitkoff, M.D., chief medical officer.

“It’s rare in New York State for a health insurer to get involved the way MVP has in this partnership, but it is consistent with what MVP is doing in the community to bring added value to our members,” said Bizzarro.

Watson works to gather data to identify best practices, proposed quality initiatives and value-based designs related to medication reconciliation and transition-of-care services. In addition, she analyzes data related to medication safety, effectiveness, and efficiency; promulgates guidelines for appropriate first-line therapy for common chronic conditions; educates patients and providers regarding optimal use of medications; and recommends lab tests necessary for monitoring outcomes of medication therapy.

“We applaud MVP and CapitalCare for recognizing the key role pharmacists play in improving patient outcomes and are pleased to contribute to this initiative,” said Robert Hamilton, Pharm.D., MPH, dean of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at ACPHS. “By supporting this position, MVP and CapitalCare are not only showing how the pharmacist will play an expanded role in the future health care system, they are underscoring their commitment to outstanding patient care and value-based medicine.”

About MVP Health Care

MVP Health Care is a nationally recognized, community-focused, not-for-profit health insurer serving more than 700,000 members in New York and Vermont. Committed to the complete well-being of its members, MVP provides the tools and information they need to achieve better health and peace of mind. For more information, visit, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @MVPHealthCare.

About CapitalCare

CapitalCare Medical Group is a physician-owned medical practice with over 650 employees including more than 230 healthcare professionals. The group offers primary care services in Family Practice, Pediatrics and Internal Medicine throughout the Capital Region. CapitalCare also provides services in Endocrinology, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Nephrology, adult and pediatric Neurology, medical nutrition therapy, comprehensive diabetes education and operates a state-of-the-art clinical laboratory. CapitalCare welcomes new patients and participates with most major health insurance carriers. CapitalCare is also on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

About Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a private, independent institution with a long tradition of academic and research excellence. The College is committed to educating the next generation of leaders in the health care professions and translating scientific discoveries into therapies that benefit humankind. In addition to its doctor of pharmacy program, ACPHS offers five bachelor’s programs and five graduate programs in the health sciences. The College has campuses in Albany, New York and Colchester, Vermont. For more information, please visit