< Digital health and the pharmacy of the future: 5 startups to watch
by Deanna Porgorelc on March 11, 2014

Digital health and the pharmacy of the future: 5 startups to watch

California state law passed last fall to recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers illustrates how the traditional behind-the-counter role of the pharmacist is changing fast in the new era of healthcare.

It’s no surprise then that technology innovation is rising to meet pharmacists as their roles expand.

Several interesting companies aimed at transforming a particular process or challenge in pharmacies have sprung up recently. Here are a few I’m keeping an eye one. Feel free to share others in the comments.

  • Mail-order pharmacy PillPack launched earlier this year as a full-service pharmacy for the millions of Americans who take five or more medications a day. Led by designers and pharmacists, the company aims to make prescription management easier for those customers by organizing prescriptions into daily packets and handling all of the back-end work with insurance companies and physicians. The team uses automated machines to pack and report the contents of its pill packets and a proprietary software system to manage customers.

  • To make sure that people are getting the lowest possible prices on their medications, a Kansas City pharmacist built a software system that uses a customer’s precise location, their medications, possible alternatives and proprietary pricing information to determine where they might be able to save money. The answer could be something as simple as price shopping, or something more complex like an alternative therapeutic option. RxSavings Solutions now works with self-insured employers to help their employees save on prescriptions.

  • RxRevu seems to be doing something similar. The physician-founded company uses a person’s health history and a database of drug effectiveness research to make sure customers aren’t getting a more expensive drug when a less expensive one is just as suitable. That could be a generic, a different dose that could be split or a different drug all together. The technology is licensed to insurance companies and app developers.

  • This one isn’t a digital health company, but I’m counting it because it’s a pilot project aimed at transforming community pharmacies with both technology and human interaction. UC San Francisco and Walgreens have opened a pilot store on the university’s campus that will enable pharmacists to share electronic patient records with physicians and consult with all customers to make sure they understand their medications.

  • ZappRX is developing a collaborative tool that would automate parts of the laborious manual process of ordering specialty pharmaceuticals. Atlas Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline’s venture arm, SR One, have invested in the digital health startup.