Too many patients are forgetting or ignoring doctor’s orders to take their medicine, but a West Lafayette startup is aiming to solve the problem with a new technology.
Concordance Health Solutions recently raised $2.5 million in early-stage investment funds to launch their product, called the Smart Med Reminder system, which reminds patients to take their meds and alerts caregivers or providers when an intervention is needed.
The system includes a mobile app that prompts patients to take medications, an electronic vial cap that records when a patient opens the vial, and cloud-based services that monitor the progress and send updates to the doctor or other prescriber.
The company, formed in 2009, has been working on the technology since 2011, and recently tied the system together with apps for iOS or Android devices, and a cloud-computing service, said Laura Downey, the company’s CEO and co-founder.
“We are in the early launch stage,” she said. “We are building quickly. We have been in active process since January to ramp up for launch.”
Concordance, with 10 full-time employees, is based at the Kurtz Purdue Technology Center, part of Purdue Research Park. Downey said the technology is not connected to the university, although she lectures at Purdue’s Krannert School of Management.
“This was a product of our own ingenuity,” she said. “It’s our own proprietary technology. We have two patents.”
The system begins when a pharmacist programs the electronics in the vial cap when dispensing the prescription, a process that takes just a few seconds, using a QR code or bar code scan. Concordance’s software pulls the patient information and dosing information from the pharmacy database to automatically program the cap.
The mobile app features alarm-time reminders that are meant to encourage the patient to closely follow their schedule. With permission from the patient, the system notifies family members, providers, insurers or pharmacists when the medication was taken and when it was missed.
“The cap on the vial has some very small electronics in it that track the opening of the device,” said Kevin Haehl, Concordance’s vice president. “So every time the vial is open, you assume the patient is taking their meds.”
The vial also has lights and sound to help guide the patients, he said.
Skipping meds is a huge problem for American patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 20 percent of the 3.8 billion prescriptions written every year in the United States aren’t filled. Among those that are filled, 50 percent are taken incorrectly, especially when it comes to timing.
The Annals of Internal Medicines estimated that lack of adherence to taking medications cost the American health care system up to $289 billion a year and causes about 125,000 deaths and at least 10 percent of all hospitalizations.
Concordance officials declined to identify the investors or customers, or to say how much the product costs. However, they say it was cheap enough that the vial caps with electronics are disposable.
The company said the product isn’t available on store shelves but is sold directly to insurance companies and self-funded employers.
“It’s whoever is paying for health care, because they’re the ones seeing the big benefit,” Haehl said.
He said Concordance now has pilot programs in place with “some key business customers,” but he declined to name them.
Downey previously worked in marketing for drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co., and is a veterinarian.
The company’s other co-founder, Steve Klink, owned a chain of pharmacies in Lafayette called Wells Yeager Best.•