Protecting Hospitals and Patients with 340B

McKesson’s Macro Helix business helps health systems stretch scarce resources to care for their most vulnerable patients.



Read time: 3.5 minutes

An underinsured diabetic man who takes insulin shots. An uninsured breast cancer patient going through chemotherapy. A low-income patient in need of a life-saving AIDS medicine.

These are just a few of the people whose access to medication would not be possible without the 340B Drug Pricing Program.

Created by the federal government in 1992, the 340B Drug Pricing Program enables eligible covered entities, such as hospitals or outpatient clinics in rural areas that serve indigent (uninsured or low-income) patients, to purchase medications at discounted prices. For patients without means, 340B can make all the difference to their treatment and health outcomes.

In addition to benefitting individual patients, the program is also vital to the survival of many health centers, particularly safety-net hospitals. (A safety-net hospital typically has a mission or mandate of serving a low-income population, regardless of patients’ insurance coverage or ability to pay.) Yet 340B is subject to many regulatory and compliance rules, so it’s notoriously complex and difficult for these covered entities to navigate.

Enter Macro Helix, McKesson’s 340B program software and services business. Acquired by McKesson in 2012, Macro Helix helps hospitals, clinics and contract pharmacies manage successful 340B programs, so these entities can assist patients in receiving comprehensive, affordable care.

Alex Hennum

Alex Hennum

“Millions of Americans have access to healthcare because of the 340B federal program,” says Alex Hennum, VP/GM of Macro Helix. “It’s also a lifeline for many hospitals and health centers, some of which would have to shut their doors or cut staff without it. Macro Helix equips covered entities by providing automatable 340B software solutions, while offering deep subject matter expertise, so they can secure funding for services and programs for underserved patients in their communities.”

Before Macro Helix launched in 2009, its original founders saw many health systems struggling to maximize the value of their 340B eligibility. The tools and programs available to these entities from other 340B third-party administrators (TPAs) left a lot of gaps and missed pharmacy savings opportunities.

Macro Helix addresses these blind spots by offering software designed to help health systems make the most of their 340B eligibility and opportunities. The company aims to eliminate or reduce any manual work for the client that could instead be moved to an automated process—and to do it compliantly with state-of-the-art software. Every month, the team turns out a release cycle to bring new features, functionalities and fixes to the 340B user community.

In addition to its focus on pioneering technology, Macro Helix offers health systems contract pharmacy relationships for access to 340B-eligible medications, data security and compliance features, and deep expertise in regulatory guidance. The 340B landscape is ever-shifting, with drug manufacturer actions and rulings from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) impacting the federal program and the healthcare entities that depend on it.

“What really sets us apart is our high-touch customer service,” notes Hennum. “The goal is to be a true partner to our covered-entity clients as they navigate an ever-evolving healthcare ecosystem.”

That’s one reason why the company has grown to become a market share leader, with over 1,000 covered entity clients in 48 states. All told, approximately 40% of 340B hospitals in the U.S. partner with Macro Helix.

“At the end of the day, 340B is about helping the most vulnerable patient populations,” says Hennum.

On an individual level, the program can make all the difference for those struggling to afford critical medications like insulin and life-saving cancer therapies. On a community level, many hospitals and health systems use their 340B savings to create and fund much-needed supports, such as smoking cessation programs, transportation to appointments, mobile clinics, access to healthy food and more.

Companies like Macro Helix are helping to make it all possible. It’s about making the day-to-day easier for 340B-participating health systems, hospitals and pharmacies so they are free to focus on what they do best—provide the best possible care for every patient.