You won’t miss medicines anymore with Israel’s Medisafe app
Israel’s MediSafe Project is a cloud-based app that monitors an individual’s medicine intake to prevent potentially fatal incidences of under-dosing or overdosing. MediSafe is a graduate of Microsoft’s Accelerator program for early stage startups that utilize cloud-based mobile devices.
Omri ‘Bob’ Shor is the co-founder and CEO of MediSafe. His brother and he created the MediSafe Project in 2012 after an incident in his family led to his father accidentally overdosing on insulin.
Prior to founding Medisafe, Omri worked in marketing and product management for Masadit Software. Since 2012, he is a part of ‘Entrepreneurs in Jeans’, a Boston-sponsored program promoting the entrepreneurial eco-system in Omri’s town of Haifa in Israel. He is also a decorated army sergeant, and commanded an elite paratroopers’ unit in the Israel Defense Forces from 1998-2001.
Omri talks to YourStory about his venture.
YS: What’s the story behind the Medisafe Project?
Omri: My father has Type-1 (insulin dependent) diabetes. On a particular evening in December 2011, he couldn’t seem to remember if he had taken his insulin dose for the day. He checked with the family to see if anyone had seen him take his dose that evening. Since no one remembered, he concluded that he was yet to take it. But he was wrong. He had already taken his insulin shortly before. That evening resulted in him taking a double dose, which could have led to a fatal incident. With quick actions on our part, we were able to avert an actual emergency, but the fact remained that this could repeat at anytime in the future. This led to ideas of a mobile technology that could help connect patients to the care of their friends, family and caretakers to prevent situations like what happened to my father.
MediSafe was thus founded in August of 2012, and officially launched in November 14, 2012. We started with a team of two, and in just one year, the team has grown to 10. We are headquartered in Haifa, Israel, and recently added an office in San Diego, California.
YS: So what exactly is the Medisafe Project all about?
Omri: MediSafe helps address the global issue of medication non-adherence. To understand the magnitude of this problem, consider this – the US spends upwards of $290 billion annually on account of this. Non-adherence is an epidemic that’s growing every year, and as the number of people diagnosed with chronic illnesses continues to increase, this number is likely to grow. The new changes to healthcare laws can also play a role in increasing the cost of non-adherence. Soon, millions of previously un-insured will now have access to prescription medications. It is important that they learn how to manage their medications and consistently adhere to the correct doses, which will help reduce ER rates and inflated healthcare costs.
MediSafe is helping to tackle this issue by providing customized reminders to alert users when it’s time to take their medication. In addition to alerting the user, MediSafe also sends alerts to family, friends or caretakers when the medication is not taken, leveraging the family as a support system. MediSafe can benefit anyone on medication – this can be anything from daily vitamins to life-saving drugs. MediSafe also benefits the family members or caretakers of users, helping to put them at ease knowing their loved one is safe and adhering to their prescribed medication regimen.
MediSafe’s pillbox monitor is proving to be very successful in tackling this worldwide problem. Its users reported an 82.25% adherence rate, which is 32.25% higher than general medication adherence rates for long-term therapies, reported as 50% by the World Health Organization.
We are a B2B2C company, meaning we’re dealing with consumers on the one hand and pharmaceutical companies on the other. MediSafe provides value to pharmaceutical companies by offering Big Data to help identify trends and patterns associated with medication adherence.
MediSafe is available for Android and iPhone users, and we hope to add a landline service soon to benefit those without a smartphone. The app is available in 11 other languages, besides English.
YS: How do you plan to scale?
Omri: The healthcare business is a complex business that is hard to penetrate and raise money for. We had challenges with differentiation and defining barriers to entry, which we had to overcome in order to secure the funding required for our growth.
Other players in the market with similar products include HealthPrise and Mango Health (users are ‘paid’ for taking their medication) and pharma companies’ attempts like Jansen’s Care4today. But among other things, MediSafe is able to provide the same solution without paying the patient, which makes us inherently more efficient.
In just one year, we’ve seen significant growth and success. MediSafe has over 225,000 downloads. As a startup, the first few thousand downloads can be the hardest to attain, but through building of a great product, maintaining a loyal customer base and media outreach, the number of users began to grow. We take every comment and suggestion that our users voice, and consider ways to implement these suggestions into the next app update.
In September 2013, we secured $1 million in funding – the investment was co-led by Lool Ventures and TriVentures alongside Veritas and a couple of angel investors. We are allocating these funds to build partnership programs with hospitals etc. which use Medisafe’s platform to supervise their patients’ medicine routines.
We are also building an eco-system with big pharma companies and pharmacy chains, which have a financial incentive to make sure people take their medicine. By partnering with us – either by white-labeling MediSafe or co-branding – we are working together to increase their customers’ medication adherence. We also expect big pharma to pay for access to our aggregated, anonymous user adherence data, so they can better understand exactly how their customers are taking their medication, identify the roadblocks of adherence and create programs to help improve medication management and improve health outcomes.
In October 2013, we partnered with the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Tillotts Pharma, to create a customized medication management system for patients suffering from Ulcerative Colitis, and we have many more exciting updates and growth planned for the future.
Our vision for MediSafe is to create an eco-system for all members of the value chain – patients, families, doctors, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies to solve the problem of medication non-adherence. Our mobile app is only the beginning of this vision.