The best businesses and startups come to fruition — and achieve success — when something in its industry isn’t quite working. When problems go unaddressed, opportunities for new, disruptive solutions emerge. In healthcare, the pitfalls of physical pharmacies have created a wide open space that several online pharmacy startups are eager to fill.
The problem with physical pharmacies is well-documented, and on a purely anecdotal level, most people can attest to their problems: long wait times, unpleasant staff, out-of-stock medicines, and poor communication chief among them.
These issues can be expensive, especially when they cause patients to — whether due to forgetfulness, mobility issues, or financial concerns — go off their medicine. Non-adherence can lead to costly medical problems and ER visits, which, according to Wired, incurs between $100 and $300 billion in avoidable medical costs each year.
The main goal of online pharmacy startups is to streamline and simplify the refill process, helping patients taking their medicine consistently and correctly. Some of these businesses are cutting out the middleman, while others rely on smart hardware or work with local pharmacies to drive efficiency.
Here are five promising new pharmacy startups watch out for:
- PillPack is one leading, well-funded startup in this arena. This online full-service pharmacy delivers individual packets of daily medications so that patients can take their pills all at once instead of opening several bottles, always get their drugs on time, and have a clean record of adherence.
- Capsule, a NYC-based startup, takes a primarily software-based approach to online prescriptions. Patients can use its slick app to chat with pharmacists, schedule deliveries, and find out the cost of medications before they are filled, not after.
- Round Health, by contrast, takes an IoT approach to drug adherence. The company’s “smart bottles,” which cost $10 a month, lights up to passively remind patients to take their medication. The bottle pings a connected app to alert you when it’s time for a refill.
- Zipdrug, another NY-based pharmacy startup, is an app that processes payments and dispatches a messenger to pick up and deliver their medications for a $10 fee. The service promises to deliver medicine within one hour, and works with your pharmacy instead of against it to make this happen.
- Robin Health has a unique approach to this issue as well. Instead of tackling the mail order, like PillPack, they aim to provide on-demand access to a network of local pharmacists around-the-clock, and like Zipdrug, guarantees delivery within an hour.
All of these startups prove that there is a high demand for new, more efficient and cost-effective models that help people receive their medicine and take it regularly. In the healthcare industry, we can look forward to more businesses tackling outdated models to benefit your wallet and wellness.