SAN JUAN, PR – When they set out to start what they call “a revolution” in the healthcare industry in 2006, the Puerto Rican company, Abarca, knew that the journey ahead would be full of challenges and learning. 15 years later, the growth they have achieved is the strongest proof that they have exceeded their expectations while living their mission to the fullest and impacting 5 million lives in Puerto Rico and the United States.
“We founded this company because we believed it was possible to provide better service, more powerful technology, clinical innovation, and be a partner who always strives to constantly improve the way we do things,” says Jason Borschow, Abarca’s president and CEO. “We are pleased to have a team of 500 professionals who work every day to revolutionize health services. It is their combined, and unwavering effort that has allowed us to continue growing.”
After over a decade and a half in the industry, Abarca has not only evolved as a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) but also as a technology company. In addition to obtaining multiple recognitions for their performance as a PBM, they developed a technological platform that has revolutionized the pharmacy benefit management process, expanded their presence in the United States, and grew their workforce from 30 employees to more than 500 professionals located between Puerto Rico and several US cities serving clients in the regions’ highly competitive markets, added Adriana Ramírez, Abarca’s Chief Operating Officer. “What makes me most proud, is being part of a culture that encourages the development of the best talent in Puerto Rico and the United States, that brings together a diversity of experiences and ideas, and allows us to think bigger about what we can accomplish when we work together as a team towards a common goal.”
Achieving growth despite a pandemic
As with almost all industries, 2020 was a year of unimaginable challenges for the global business ecosystem. However, according to Ramírez, it was the ideal moment to put the values on which the company was founded into practice.
“It’s not the first nor will it be the last time that we’ve faced unprecedented challenges. We built a company in an industry where a few dominate over 70% of the market at the national level and yet, we have shown that we are different. Our core values are a huge part of what creates that difference – they are the fuel that motivates us every day to improve our operations and achieve our goal of being a national industry leader from Puerto Rico. Last year, together with other Puerto Rican companies, we forged a unique strategic alliance which allowed us to develop the first home delivery pharmacy program on the island,” said the company’s chief operating officer.
Successfully launched in April of 2020, the pharmacy delivery program, Triple-S en Casa, is a digital platform that allows Triple-S beneficiaries to process their prescriptions from a mobile application and have their medications delivered to their home or preferred address. Ramírez emphasized that this project was launched in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and provided a convenient and safe alternative to medication access so that patients would not have to expose themselves to the risk of contagion in order to receive their prescription drugs.
“In addition to this great accomplishment, the number of lives we serve grew by 50% in 2020, most of which came from clients in the United States, and we were recognized as the top third Best Employer by the Kincentric global certification and El Nuevo Día. Without a doubt, this recognition further motivated our mission,” Ramírez concluded.
Abarca will continue to serve and grow in Puerto Rico
Today, Abarca now serves more than 5 million lives and in 2021, they expect a 50% increase in transactions; however, for this company, growth is not only measured in numbers – and although part of that growth is due to their clients in the United States, the company promises to continue growing their services in Puerto Rico where they are currently expanding their main offices.
After a total investment of over $10 million, Abarca is currently moving their San Juan operations to the heart of the Santurce neighborhood where they plan to create a kind of “open campus.” The move of the company’s headquarters to the Santurce urban center supposes an economic revitalization to the area. In this newly renovated 12-story space, the company’s employees will not limit themselves to the building, but through collaborative agreements, will make use of the surrounding facilities, businesses, and restaurants that this vibrant neighborhood offers.
“This is a long-term investment in which Abarca will immerse itself into the entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem that has highlighted the Santurce area. As part of our 15-year anniversary celebration, we want to create an open campus in the heart of the city. For example, instead of having a cafeteria, Abarcans will enjoy and support the unique gastronomic experience that the Santurce area offers, where creative outdoor spaces can become productive spaces for Abarcans. We want our collaborators and business partners to be our neighbors,” explained Borschow, who in 2019 became the first Puerto Rican businessman to join the global Endeavor network.
Impacting the greater healthcare industry
As part of their continued revolution in the healthcare industry, Borschow and Ramírez emphasized the importance of integrating other key programs and initiatives toward this mission. For Abarca, it’s not only about managing pharmacy benefits, but also about positively impacting communities through programs such as their Better Care Community Program, which supports non-profit organizations such as Ciencia Puerto Rico and Consejo Renal de Puerto Rico, and clinical research projects at the University of Puerto Rico, among other causes. In the same way, through initiatives like their Off-Road Pharmacy Program, the company provides continuing education resources to the pharmaceutical community in collaboration with the Colegio de Farmacéuticos de Puerto Rico.
“In the coming years, we hope that our culture, our people, and the talent we attract will continue to make healthcare awesome, and to show that Puerto Rico can contribute significantly in this space, to the US industry, and perhaps one day, to the rest of the world,” concluded Borschow.
- Abarca Health was founded in 2006.
- The company employs more than 500 professionals in Puerto Rico and the United States, 55% of which are women.
- International recognition :
- Excellence Awards for quality improvement strategies, awarded by the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI) in 2018 and 2019.
- Jason Borschow selected as EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 and the first local entrepreneur to join the Endeavor global network in 2019.
- Recognized as Best Employers by Kincentric in 2020.
- In 2018, they officially launched the Darwin technology platform with the integration of all pharmacy benefit management services in one solution.
- In partnership with several local companies in 2020, they developed a digital platform that processes and delivers medications to the comfort of people’s homes.
- In 2021, they will move their main operations to an urban campus in Santurce.
*NOTE: This blog post was written by Abarca Health personnel. Read this article in Spanish as published in El Nuevo Día, March 17th, 2021.