According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 50% of patients do not take their prescription drugs properly resulting in poor health outcomes and unnecessary expenditure. The annual pharmaceutical revenue loss due to medication non-adherence in the United States alone is estimated to be $290 billion.
Poor prescription drug compliance is particularly prevalent in chronic care management. Diabetes and hypertension non-compliance rates in the United States are reported to be as high as 98% and 93% respectively.
By helping patients understand their medicines better and by simplifying medication management using technology, patient compliance rates can be increased to achieve better outcomes. Technologies like bar-coding in the hospitals, remote patient monitoring devices and daily text messages to remind people to take medicines have demonstrated their utility in boosting medication adherence.
Now, a recent start-up company PillPack in Manchester, US, intends to further make it less taxing for patients to manage their medications by packing their pills in small presorted packets organized by date and time and delivering them to their doorstep.
PillPack uses a high precision automated dispensing system to sort and fill personalized pill packets for each customer according to their prescription. Multiple barcode checks, calibrated medication canisters and image recognition system ensure dispensing accuracy by size, shape, color and density of each pill to make sure that a pill packet contains the right pills in right dosages. Manual checks by pharmacists at each step in the process eliminate any potential errors.
People who need to take multiple prescriptions every day now no longer need to visit the nearest pharmacy each month to refill, sort the pills and then remember to take them on the right day and at right time. The packets sent by PillPack are conveniently packed to individual prescriptions and organized by time and date which makes it easier to adhere to medication prescription. With shipments automatically arriving every two weeks, refills are not a problem anymore.
The individual pill packs isn’t a new idea. Some long-term care facilities have been pre-sorting the pills to aid nurses who need to handle multiple patients but when the same idea is extended to mail-order pharmacy and backed by robust software systems, it has the potential to disrupt a huge market considering that the US alone has 30 million people who take five or more medications each day.
The firm launched by T J Parker, a second-generation pharmacist and Elliot Cohen, an engineer, went through incubation in TechStars Boston program and later received a $4 million investment from Atlas Venture, Founder Collective and other angel investors.
PillPack is now working on pushing this concept further and create mobile apps to integrate their service with wearable devices such as iWatch or Google Glass to alert customers when they have not taken their pills. Currently the company is licensed to operate in 31 states of the US and intends to cover more in 2014 but the business model being pioneered by PillPack has the potential to disrupt traditional pharmacy worldwide.