‘Virtual pillbox’ helps you keep track of your pills
A new app makes it easy and less expensive to keep up with all your prescriptions.
As modern medicine advances, so do the number of medications available. People of all ages are taking medicines – and many of these have to be taken on a set schedule. Medisafe is a practical app to help you remember to take your pills, and now it can also help you find the lowest price on prescriptions.
The startup was founded in Israel by Bob Shor and his brother Rotem who were trying to help their father, a diabetic, keep track of his insulin. "My dad is very tech-savvy and loves his smartphone but he didn't have any app or technology to help him with his medication," Bob recalls. So they got to work on a solution. They incubated their app at Microsoft's high-tech accelerator in Tel Aviv. Medisafe, whose headquarters are in Boston, already has 2 million users.
The Medisafe app scans the barcode on medications and offers easy visual cues to let you know what you've taken and what you still need to take. The company says that users are taking their pills 81% of the time. By contrast, the World Health Organization says most people only manage to stay on track with their medications 50% of the time.
The app’s success is partly attributed to its reminder functionality, and accountability plays a huge factor as well. Family members can set up alerts for each other, so if your spouse, parent, child or sibling forgets to take something, you can give him or her a gentle nudge.
Medisafe’s new medication image library gives users the option to upload their exact medication, with specific options like medication shape, color, dosage and frequency.
“This new import feature makes it a lot easier to get started with Medisafe and get more value out of it over time,” said Medisafe user David Julian. “I take as many as 22 different daily medications, so entering all of them manually would be quite tedious, and I could make mistakes in the process. Now, I get timely reminders for all of my meds, and the app instantly personalizes the experience based on my medications and conditions.”
Users can also log biometrics such as blood pressure and glucose levels so that they can see how taking their medications as prescribed affects their health, and a partnership with the digital health platform Human API allows users to import relevant snippets of their clinical history. The idea is to help people better understand how adhering to a treatment plan can affect their health, and hopefully, encourage them to make lasting behavioral changes.
The cost of prescription drugs has been on the rise in recent years. Studies show half of all generic drugs increased in price between August 2013 and August 2014. Some 24% of Americans have difficulty paying for their medications, and 40% have either not filled a prescription or skipped a dose due to cost. To counter this problem, Medisafe announced a partnership with California-based GoodRx in September to help users find the lowest price on medications at some 60,000 pharmacies across the U.S.
“Higher copays and coinsurance rates from public health exchanges and private insurers are putting a heavy financial burden on consumers. That's not healthy for them, and it's not healthy for our healthcare system overall,” said Medisafe's Jon Michaeli. “Numerous studies have linked higher medication costs to lower adherence. Working with GoodRx, we can reverse this trend with an economic impact of billions of dollars in savings annually.”
Medisafe is available for Android and Apple platforms, and has also been optimized for the Apple Watch.
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