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The $300 Billion Problem: Medication Adherence


Photo by Abram Guerra

More than forty professionals from the healthcare and startup communities met on November 11, 2014 at the Pegasystems headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. The event, organized by Health Innovators, focused on the $300 billion problem of medication adherence. The audience was made up primarily of technology vendors and service providers looking to network and compare notes on medication adherence issues and solutions. “We started as a small group holding intimate [unconferences] with 5 to 7 people,” said Matt Kelly, Co-Founder and Director of Partnerships for Health Innovators. “It grew to a network of 3,000 plus members holding events with between 50 and 70 people per event.”

A panel of four speakers shared their views on current opportunities and challenges for innovators in medication adherence. Moderator Yogendra Jain of RxAdvance opened the night with a high level view of the adherence problem, and returned later to talk about RxAdvance’s flagship product: PillStation. As an entrepreneur on the front lines, Yogendra gave insight about gaining product development data from customer patterns, including some touching stories about patients not wanting to give up their pill station because it had become a part of their daily lives.

Pegasystems, also the venue sponsors for the event, shared their approach to targeting interventions in their customer service platform, which includes features designed to help care managers better target and personalize their encounters with patients. They broke down the need for more advanced analytics in medication adherence in five key focus areas: Identifying High-Risk Patients; Predicting Adherence ‘Trigger Points’; Stratifying Based on Impact; Adapting to New Data; and Triggering Timely Outreach.

Dr. Kevin Ban, Chief Medical Officer at Dovetail Health, talked about his startup’s “low-tech, high-touch” approach to improving adherence. Dovetail contracts with health systems to send a visiting pharmacist and/or nurse to activate patients within 48 hours of hospital discharge. While this strategy can be a challenge logistically, it is effective in bridging the ‘last mile’ of the care continuum.

Carol McCall, Chief Product Officer at GNS Healthcare, showed how their advanced analytics are helping payers and hospital systems to ‘Accelerate Intelligent Interventions. GNS is diligent about keeping focused on improving the intelligence behind interventions, and has had to decline requests to provide the interventions themselves.

Dr. Yuri Quintana, Director of Global Health Informatics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, shared a more global perspective on medication adherence, as well as his evaluation of the mHealth market. Quintana’s research shows that many mobile health tools fail to impress patients because of simple user experience issues that should be addressed earlier in their development cycle.

After the panelists presented their perspective on the issue, a moderated Q&A session provided the attendees with an opportunity to engage and share their own observations. Bob Dichter, Chief Growth Officer at Optimal Practice Solutions, appreciated the presence of a broad spectrum of products and services. “The one downside is that they really didn’t have the people who are buying the solutions as part of the panelists,” he said. “I would have liked to have seen providers and payers who are really looking to implement solutions.”

Abram Guerra

Abram Guerra

    Abram Guerra is Founder and COO at Datafeel, a patient engagement SaaS platform that helps payers achieve better outcomes for Type II Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes populations. He also consults for clients pursuing patient-centered innovation, and social, mobile, and content marketing strategies. Abram holds an MBA in Strategy and an MS in Information Systems from Boston University, and a BA in English Literature from California State University Los Angeles. Find him at www.abrm.us

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