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“This is a several hundred billion dollar issue”: The future of medication management

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Issues associated with managing medication is a several 100 billion dollar issue, the chief business officer at Medisafe told Health Tech World.

For people on multiple medications, managing their course of tablets can be a complex task. Many require to be taken at specific times in the day and incorrect dosing can lead to serious health complications or even death. Side effects and interactions with other medications can also be a cause of concern.

Once a patient receives their prescription, communication between patient and nurse can be inconsistent at best.

“If patients are on complex drugs or have different chronic conditions, it is more than just taking a pill on a daily basis; there are lots of challenges along the way,” said Karen Gardner, vice president of customer success at the medication management company, Medisafe.

“When we have these patient support programs or nurse programs, they have no ability to connect directly with the patient, other than an outbound phone call.

Medisafe Karen Gardner

Karen Gardner,· vice president of customer success at Medisafe

Medisafe is a US-based medication management tool that claims to be the leading digital companion with 7 million registered users.

The platform takes a holistic approach to healthcare, using a personalised AI engine to customise the messages, tools and resources that each individual user receives.

Chief business officer at Medisafe, Sean Markey said: “Patient journeys are very difficult for some patient populations. They have comorbidities, there are multiple medications; we have some patients on 20 different drugs. You can imagine the titrating schedules and the dosing schedules to try to manage that in various ways and tools be very difficult. With Medisafe it’s in one spot.”

One of the platform’s key features is its ability to connect patients with clinicians, providing support for patients and helping nurses remain in contact once the patient has received their prescription.

“We all know that we’re all getting a million phone calls a day and we often don’t even know what the number is. If it’s not a number you recognise, you may answer your phone,” Gardner said.

“Nurses were having significant challenges getting a hold of patients. [Medisafe] allows the patient to know that it is a nurse, we have a facility where we can identify the number, help the patient identify that this is a call coming from their dupixent [a prescription medication for ecszma] nurse support program, so they can see who is calling them.”

The platform also allows for bi-directional communication between patients and healthcare professionals, so if a patient needs more information on their medication they can send a notification to their nurse and request support.

“We’ve really grown to assist our patients with their journey on all of their medications,” Markey said. “So it’s not just the medication of a specific pharma partner, but also a holistic medication management tool. It helps patients across their entire healthcare journey on their medications.

Sean Markey Medisafe

Sean Markey, chief business officer at Medisafe

“It really helps the patient on a global level integrating not only what they’re doing, but allowing them to have more personal interventions received from the nurses.”

The company is now developing a number of new features including trackers that allow patients to track the progression of their disease via their phone so they can see for themselves how the medication is helping them.

Medisafe was founded by two brothers, Omri and Rotem Shor. Their father, who is a diabetic and hypertensive patient, asked Omri one day if he remembered if he had taken his insulin.

A miscommunication between Omri and his father led to the latter taking an additional dose of insulin and as a result suffered from a ‘diabetic shock’, a potentially life-threatening event.

The two brothers thought there must be something out there to manage complex prescriptions like their father’s but they failed to find an effective solution. So, in 2012 the brothers teamed up and launched Medisafe.

Since then, the company has grown rapidly. Although most of its users are based in the United States, the platform has been translated into 23 languages and is used across Europe, Asia and South America.

The company began its life as a B2C start up, but has since adopted a B2B model, partnering with pharmaceutical companies to get their product in the hands of patients.

One of the companies that Medisafe is currently working with is Lash Group. Medisafe has integrated its platform with Lash Group’s patient support programme to help establish a daily connection point between patients and the drug manufacturer.

This includes a patient-facing mobile app and a proprietary platform through which nurses can interact directly with patients.

“Specifically for the Lash program, we interconnected with their nurse support programme and provided insight to those nurses on exactly what the patients were doing with their medications.

“Nurses love to have that insight. It gives them the ability to connect on a deeper level with patients because they are able to see what the patients are doing in terms of their medications on a daily basis.

“We’ve really been able to save the nurses and lash team a significant number of hours just in trying to reach the patients and other efficiencies as well.

“It means that they can then spend their time really devoted to the patients that need it the most rather than the administrative tasks of trying to contact a patient about a form. They can then devote their time to the patients that really need it.”

According to Markey, mismanagement of medication is a $100 billion issue and causes thousands of deaths every year.

“I think that is the main reason why we’re here, Markey added. “We don’t want to get to that point; we want to intervene and interact with patients along the way so that does not happen.”

In the next 3 to 5 years, Markey believes that all speciality and rare disease drugs will have a digital component that works alongside the drug to support patients.

Medisafe has plans to develop the platform beyond its current capabilities as a digital companion. Looking longer-term, Markey said the company is setting its sights on clinical trials and is beginning to look at software as a medical device, potentially seeking FDA approval for a digital tool that can diagnose patients.

“We believe that there’s room for us in the payer space, in the provider space, and possibly even in the clinical trial space,” Markey added. “During COVID-19, clinical trials came to a halt. They had no way to interact with patients.

“If patients get enrolled and they’re also enrolled with a digital companion like Medisafe it could help support clinical trials.”

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