BLOCKCHAINS AND PHARMACIES: A NEW WAY OF LEVERAGING MEDICATION ADHERENCE
Non-adherence to a treatment is becoming an important public health issue. This bad behavior is accountable for 125,000 deaths in the U.S. alone and costs the country $300B each year. There are multiple reasons that explain why patients do not take their treatment correctly. It can be that they stop as soon as they feel better, that their treatment is too complex or that the pharmacy doesn’t have the product in stock. No matter what the reason is, the medical community has been struggling with this issue for years. At the age of digital health and mobile applications, many tried to tackle this problem by using mobile reminders, gamification of the treatment or connected pill boxes. However, none of these solutions have worked on the long run.
The solution could come, once again, from startups. ScriptDrop is a blockchain-based startup that might have found a way to tackle the adherence problem. The company was founded by former employees of a large healthcare IT company with years of experience working with the pharmaceutical system. According to them, although all the initiatives so far are very interesting, they are missing one element: nothing incentives the patient to truly comply with the treatment.
Pain points in the pharmacy-patient circuit
Stock shortage is a common issue in pharmacies that most patients have already faced. Although it can be fixed in a matter of days or hours, 25% of the time patients don’t return to pick up their medication. Indeed, the patient either forgets to come back or simply buys the product in a pharmacy that has it in stock. This leads to three main issues: first, the patient might never receive his treatment. Second, if the patient decides to purchase the medication in another pharmacy, chances are the original pharmacy will never be informed leading to customer data loss. Finally, the pharmacy sends money to order a product that is not in stock and that will sit on the shelf if the patients never returns to pick it up.
In all these scenarios, there is a common element: the patient. He is the main actor of the healthcare continuum.
“If Joe goes to one pharmacy, drops off a prescription, doesn’t pick it up, but then goes into the next pharmacy to get it filled, who best knows what happened? Joes does.”
Building the ecosystem to improve the healthcare continuum
Many companies today are focused on delivering a unique service in the healthcare sector. Although they can be relatively successful, their method fails to have a major impact. The reason seems to be that they are building successful pieces in a failing system.
ScriptDrop is building an ecosystem approach by acting on various pain points.
First, no patient should ever leave the pharmacy before making sure that the treatment will get to him/her. To avoid prescription abandonment, ScriptDrop implemented a delivery system as described in the picture below. If a pharmacy runs out of a product, the medication will be automatically delivered to the patient’s home.
Second, once the treatment is delivered, ScriptDrop makes sure that the patient takes the medication through medication reminders. The system is frictionless and there is no need for the patient to provide any information. ScriptDrop collects all the data from the pharmacists and the doctors that interacted with the patient previously through a direct integration system.
The system could have stopped here but the ScriptDrop team observed that after a while, patients stopped taking their treatment because nothing incentivized to do otherwise. This is where blockchain comes in.
Patient rewards system and blockchain technology
One of the main issues faced in the healthcare system is that the medical or pharmaceutical communities do not have enough information on the patient’s behavior once he/she is at home. This lack of data leads to inappropriate treatment plans and poor adherence.
ScriptDrop’s solution incentivizes patients to interact with the medication reminder platform through a reward based systems. Indeed, patients win ScriptDrop tokens that they can use to pay down the co-pay given the company’s integration with pharmacies across the U.S.
With information concerning the moment the drug was dispensed, the patient’s daily interactions with the medication reminders and the refill date, ScriptDrop is able to build complete and reliable adherence profiles. These profiles, uploaded onto the blockchain, are a unique source of data that can be shared, with the patient’s consent, across the medical and pharmaceutical teams that follow the patient.
As the adherence profile is shared among the patient’s healthcare providers, they can spend more time educating and discussing with low adherence patients in order to increase their chances to correctly take the treatment.
The ScriptDrop blockchain and reward mechanism work with the Proof of Act. As patients interact with the app and follow their treatment correctly, they unlock tokens. Furthermore, as the transactions must originate from the pharmacy, it is very difficult for patients to hack the system.
“The patient is more likely to stay adherent and get their refill on time. The cost of healthcare goes down, as well as lost lives.”
A word with ScriptDrop’s Founder, Nicholas Potts
Anca Petre (AP): About your team, what are your strengths?
Nicholas Potts (NP): We have great a very robust healthcare background. Our core team has worked at a healthcare company that scaled a solution to thousands of pharmacies and hundreds of thousands of physicians in the U.S. We have technologists with experience building scalable and sustainable solutions. Our network on both the pharmacy and physician side will always be a strength of ours.
AP: How did the healthcare community welcome your project? Were they educated about blockchain technology?
NP: They have been extremely receptive to what we’re doing at ScriptDrop and our product suite. We talked to customers (pharma and pharmacies), before bringing the solution to the blockchain community. We helped to educate the customers on blockchain technology and how it will continue to drive healthcare forward. Our patient network is becoming robust and that’s what our customers immediately bought into.
AP: Can you describe a short use case involving the ScriptDrop token?
NP: We interact with patients daily with our medication reminders. We build out a patient adherence profile over time and store that to our blockchain. The patient builds up our token in the background, as they interact with the medication reminders. We can then accept that token as payment for the patient’s prescription co-pay at ALL pharmacies in the U.S. All of this is stored on the blockchain and the patient can provision who does and doesn’t have access to their data.
AP: What is the most important element you want your potential investors to remember about your project?
NP: Our team has scaled a healthcare solution before. We were early employees at a company that sold for over $1B earlier this year. We have large contracts with both national pharmacy chains and pharma companies.