Blueprint Health’s Latest Class Tackles Drug Adherence, Other Issues

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problem in healthcare got extra attention: compliance. Far too often, patients skip doses of medication—perhaps to save money, out of disdain for side effects, or because they simply forget. The problem is they can wind up a lot worse off by skipping their meds.

AdhereTech, one of this summer’s startups, developed a pill bottle equipped with sensors that send out reminders to patients’ smartphones if they miss a scheduled dosage. CEO Josh Stein said during the demo that this can compound patients’ illnesses. “People simply don’t take their pills and stay sick,” he said. “Low adherence (to medication) is bad for everyone in healthcare.”

If patients remain sick or get sicker, costs for care can increase and pharmaceutical companies can lose revenue as prescriptions are not refilled, he said. AdhereTech’s bottle measures the volume of the contained medication, whether it’s in liquid or pill form. The sensor can detect when one pill or one liquid milliliter of medication is removed from the bottle. The company’s software also asks patients who skip doses why they got off schedule. AdhereTech aggregates this data anonymously to give a clearer picture of patient adherence. Stein said AdhereTech charges pharmaceutical companies to distribute certain medications through its bottles.

Meanwhile, analytics company AllazoHealth, another member of the Blueprint summer class, also gathers data on medication non-adherence. “We predict which patients are not going to take their medication,” said CEO Clifford Jones during his demo. AllazoHealth’s target clients include health insurers and pharmacy benefits management companies that want to anticipate noncompliance. The demographics and history of patients are compared to formulate such predictions. AllazoHealth also helps determine which method of intervention, such as phone calls or direct mailings, may be more effective and cost efficient to put patients back on track.

Other demoing startups included GeriJoy, a team from MIT which created a virtual pet that runs on tablets. The software is designed to help keep seniors focused by making them interact with a talkative digital animal. Blueprint is accepting applications now for its winter 2013 class.

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