Mark Engelen (Co-Founder and CEO, RxLive)

Mark Engelen is co-founder and CEO of RxLive, based in Tampa out of Embarc Collective. RxLive is elevating the role of clinical pharmacists in healthcare. By re-imagining pharmacist-led care delivery models and streamlining traditional practice with technology, RxLive helps healthcare organizations create value, cost savings, and revenue generation through clinical pharmacy. He lives in St Petersburg Florida, is married to his co-founder Kristen, a clinical pharmacist and has two young and very rambunctious boys currently bouncing off the walls on summer break.

Courtesy of Mark Engelen
Courtesy of Mark Engelen

Can you explain your job to a five-year-old?

As people get older, they get sick. And part of how we help people stay healthy is that sometimes they take medications. But sometimes, medications make you feel bad. For example, you take too many of them. So, our job as a company is to help people do the best that they can possibly do on their medications. And that's really what we're here to do. And my job as the leader of that company is to make sure that everybody is working together to make sure as many people do as well on their medications as they possibly can.

What excites you most about your job?

I'll approach it from two angles. Angle number one is I'm incredibly passionate about advancing healthcare, and I'm incredibly passionate about our mission of expanding the role of clinical pharmacists in healthcare today and really elevating what I think this profession is capable of doing and its impact. That gets me up every single day, excited to advance the role of the clinical pharmacy in healthcare today. 

On a day-to-day basis, as CEO, a thing that I always aspired to do coming out of school and in my first jobs was to be a general manager. And the beauty about being a general manager is the ability to look at all of the different functional areas and all of the different nuances of running a business and be the person responsible for making sure that they all march in the same direction at the same pace with the same goals and mission and alignment and that it's a great place to work. And so that's really motivating for me—to see that come to fruition from a career arc perspective. And to have such diversity and complexity be part of my day on an everyday basis. 

It sounds like you are really approaching your work from the perspective of wanting to be this multifaceted leader. As well as what you were discussing at first with the passion you have for bringing pharmacists more into the fold of clinical care.

Just a little bit of background there. So, my co-founder is my wife and she's a clinical pharmacist. I'm not, but we sort of deliberately built our careers to intersect around this profession. And so it's definitely professionally gratifying to be able to have this person who I'm married to as core to the mission, to elevate the way that they feel about themselves and how they go to work every single day. And that extrapolates to our team. We deeply want everybody on our team to be doing their very best work. And to be in an environment where people feel empowered to do their best work. That's really motivating for me as well.

Which trend will change the future of medicine? 

I think the biggest macro trend is not AI. It's not like value-based medicine. It's the diffusion of medical care to the home and the locus of where care is going to be delivered is going to change dramatically. That will necessitate an infrastructure change of where care is delivered—to remote, virtual home-based environments.

And then tangential to that is the role of the patient, where, as care becomes more and more decentralized, I think that more and more responsibility will start to fall on the patient for management of their own care. 

As healthcare doesn't just become a twice a year activity for most people, but becomes a more daily occurrence and it enters their home and their life every single day, I think that's going to be transformative. 

Looking back, which trends have you missed or underestimated? 

I think we all underestimated the transformative power of decentralized care and virtual care. As a result of Covid specifically. And I think we absolutely underestimated the impact that it would have. I know that virtual care has bounced back a bit, so it's not at a hundred percent like it was at the heights of Covid, of course, but I think it's had a lasting impact that will far outreach what we ever anticipated it would look like pre-Covid.

Which MedTech initiative or startup deserves more attention? 

There's one that I want to highlight. It's a specific startup, but it's also a broader theme. The startup is called PicassoMD and what they've done is that they've built a curbside consult app—and I'm sure there's others that do the sort of the same thesis—but it empowers primary care providers to get almost real-time connectivity to specialists.

I think that that's really interesting because one of the hardest things to do is to scale this notion of a completely interdisciplinary care team that is quarterbacked by the primary care provider. I think this app is an enablement model. Doctors all thrive on the right workflow and, if you can get the right person, the right answer, from an expert at the right time in the right context, that can be really powerful. And it can save a lot of cost, and it can really improve patient care. That's what PicassoMD does.

Where would you put a million dollars? 

I would put it into what I would consider strategic real estate. And let me define what I mean by strategic real estate: It’s not real estate where I could make the most money. It’s real estate that would add the most value to my life. And what I mean by that is—you know—everybody has their happy place. And everybody aspires, I think, at their core, to find a home and find their happy place—whether that's the beach or the mountains or their family home. And so I think that taking that money and deploying it to where you're going to be happy for this generation as well as the next generation is really meaningful. And it has nothing to do with investment from a financial perspective, but everything to do with investment from a human perspective. 

What's the best advice you've ever received? 

I think it boils down to patience. I think somebody once told me that things never change as much as you want them to. Or I read this somewhere—I don't remember where I heard it, but along the lines of: things never change as much as you want them to in two years, but they'll change more in ten than you ever imagined.

I apply that to this concept of patience, but it also applies I think to this concept of contentmen. So, how can you be patient and how can you be content with where you sit today so that you don't lose sight of all the blessing and the value that you get out of your life today, and not always be searching for the next thing?

All it requires to run a startup is endless grit, patience, right? But you've gotta believe in yourself. And sometimes that belief takes a little bit of time to manifest. 

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