How This Startup Aims To Improve Medication Adherence Using Blockchain

Incentivizing positive patient behavior through adherence coins, this startup leverages blockchain to improve medication adherence.

Poor adherence to prescribed medication, especially in chronic disease management, is a severe challenge for both patients and providers. Half of the 3.2 billion annual prescribed medications dispensed in the United States are not taken as directed by the physicians.

Poor medication adherence is estimated to be the cause of between 33 and 69 percent of medication-related hospital readmissions in the United States leading to approximately 125,000 deaths per year.

When medication non-adherence is not identified and remedial action is not taken in time, it may lead to increased doses of medication or intensified pharmacotherapy, which in turn may result in increased cost of treatment, higher risk of adverse effectsphysician frustrationincreased burden on family caregivers, possible misdiagnoses, unnecessary treatment, and in some cases, exacerbation of symptoms or death.

The estimates of direct and indirect financial losses to healthcare industry due to medication non-adherence range from $100-300 billion every year. A CapGemini reportputs the annual global pharmaceutical revenue losses due to poor adherence at $564 billion with $188 billion in the United States alone.

The World Health Organization estimates that for every additional dollar spent on improving medication adherence, medical costs would be reduced by $7 for people with diabetes, $5.10 for people with high cholesterol, and $3.98 for people with high blood pressure.

Most digital health interventions to improve medication adherence consist largely of periodic reminder apps, medication tracking systems, nearest pharmacy retailer finders, smart pillboxes, ingestible pills, automated pill dispensers and adherence analytics, etc.

Now, a digital health upstart ScriptDrop aims to address the medication adherence problem with pretty much the same way – prescription delivery followed by medication reminders, but with an added twist.

It leverages the blockchain technology to reward patients with cryptocurrency tokens every time they take their medications as prescribed. The earned tokens can then be used to reduce co-payments or towards their health insurance premiums.

Founded by Nick Potts and Larry Scott in 2016, ScriptDrop is already active in prescription delivery service in Chicago and New York and plans to use more than 350 courier services to expand their business presence to more than 40 states in the US.

Medication reminder service part, currently in beta, consists of a sophisticated virtual assistant that sends regular reminders via phone, text, email and slack, a workplace messaging system. It can also be integrated with various popular home devices and personal assistants such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Microsoft Cortana.

The virtual assistant asks patients to confirm whether they have taken their medication as prescribed. This patient-reported information is stored on a secure Hyperledger-based blockchain framework and then, upon consent, shared with physicians, pharmacies, drug manufacturers and health insurance companies.

The gathered data is used to build a patient adherence profile to identify and anticipate medication taking behaviors and reduce drug wastage. ScriptDrop has already partnered with BestRx and Updox to further integrate the patient data with EHRs and pharmacy software applications.

The novelty of ScriptDrop’s idea lies in offering patients incentives to adhere to prescriptions by rewarding them with digital cryptocurrency tokens on an Ethereum-based blockchain. The tokens basically act as a currency the patients can earn by interacting with the virtual assistant and adhering to the prescriptions. The earned tokens can then be cashed by having ScriptDrop pay a part of the co-payment on their next prescription.

The company plans to launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) this November through which 1 billion digital tokens, called Adherence Tokens (AHC), will be made available with a goal to raise $31.9MM. The company hopes that by bringing advanced blockchain technology to healthcare space, they could win this battle against medication abandonment and non-adherence.

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