Pharmaceutical companies are hungry for adherence technology that can shift the World Health Organization’s average for taking medication correctly — 50 percent. It’s a trend in healthcare that’s referred to as Beyond the Pill or Pharma 3.0. Mobile health entrepreneur Omri Bob Shor, who developed an adherence technology platform, has added its first pharmaceutical customer – European pharmaceutical company Tillotts Pharma. It’s also initiating innovative collaborations with other health IT startups to offer more customized adherence technology options.
Shor, the founder and CEO of MediSafe Project in San Diego and Haifa Israel, spoke with MedCity News at the Mobile Health Venture Forum at the mHealth Summit Sunday.
MediSafe is partnering with Wealth Taxi, run by CEO Moore Greenberg. Its pill cap called iRemember uses soft flashing lights and vocal reminders that can be recorded by users for when it’s time to take a pill. The idea is to offer a greater variety of pill bottle technology depending on the need and to accommodate older people who may not use smartphones or iPads. MediSafe’s app, the MediSafe Virtual Pillbox, works with pill bottles using a near field communication (NFC) tag that sends reminders when it’s time for a particular dose. It has also added a Bluetooth version.
Shor says the different approaches will be geared to different price points. So the NFC tag and Bluetooth versions (for web users) could be used for over-the-counter or generic drugs. The iRemember cap could be used for branded prescription drugs. Shor said he is also talking with Adhere Tech about a collaboration that would add its own smart pill bottle technology. Adhere Tech has focused on specialty pharmaceuticals in areas such as cancer treatment and HIV where medications are accompanied by a high price tag.
Tillott Pharma will use MediSafe’s technology for its drug to treat ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. The initiative is called UC and ME. Merck’s European division is piloting its adherence platform and it’s also talking to Bristol Myers-Squibb.
Pharmaceutical companies want to reduce their own costs, but tackling the adherence issue is also seen as a way to cut healthcare costs from complications arising from missed doses.
In addition to pharmaceutical companies, Shor said pharmacies have been pretty vocal about technology to improve adherence. Pharmacy companies want to see more and more technology. To that end, Dose Cue has also added a refill component for users. When it’s time for a refill, a prompt asks users if they want that refill at CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid or HealthMart.
Shor said it is also working with HealthiNation to provide personalized content for users, depending on the drug they are taking for the condition they have. At the moment it is focusing on users who take Lipitor and Metfornin — a group that reflects about 3,000 of its users.
MediSafe’s collaborative approach is an exciting development in its evolution. Signing its first customer is a great milestone for the company. The fact that its approach to adherence strikes a chord not only with pharmaceutical companies but also pharmacies is a sign that it has a lot of potential to grow. It is recognizing early on the usefulness of adding complementary partners to make its expansion easier.