Too often the word “innovation” conjures a negative response and is synonymous with big change and a total disruption. But innovation is really just the process of translating an idea into a product or service that brings value to a consumer willing to pay for it. It can and should be simple, in both the front and back end.
In our industry, few examples demonstrate this kind of innovation better than Remind-A-Cap, a company that offers a reimagined pill bottle cap designed to combat the problem of medication non-adherence – a big issue for patients, sponsors and the health care industry more broadly. We reached out to Matt Ramoundos, Executive Vice President and Director of Operations at Remind-A-Cap, to talk about the device, the necessity of simple innovation, and medication non-adherence at large.
Can you start off by telling us a bit about Remind-a-cap and what led you to start the company and design the product?
Remind-A-Cap is an easy to use and affordable reminder device aimed at increasing patient to product adherence. Our products are an improvement on the closure (or cap) that comes standard with prescription or OTC medication. After taking medicine, patients turn the dial on the underside of the cap to reveal the next day and time to take their medicine. The timing for next dose appears on the top of the cap in a window similar to the dateline on the face of a watch.
The product was truly born out of necessity. My father, a brilliant software engineer, could access mountains of data in his head at will, yet could not remember whether or not he took his once-daily maintenance pill. He often would have up to half of his medication left in his pill bottle at the end of the month. Frustrated, he conceptualized the product and had 5 or so prototypes 3D printed. After he was diagnosed with cancer (now in full remission), I was helping care for him when I noticed his interaction with the product. If this product took him from 50% to 100% adherent in under a month, how much could we help the many others with the same struggle?
One unique quality of Remind-a-cap is its simplicity. What are some of the inherent advantages of simple products, like yours, for patients and caregivers, physicians and pharmaceutical companies?
Most patients do not fully understand the consequences of not being compliant to their medication as prescribed by their doctor. With upwards of $300 billion spent each year as a direct result of medication non-adherence, helping patients stay on track consistently is more than just commercializing a product and selling it on a retail shelf next to thermometers and hydrogen peroxide. We knew we had to start with the businesses responsible for getting the medication to the patients.
In the same breath, pharmacies tend to not have huge profit margins on the average maintenance prescription, so financially, it becomes a balancing act for them. Implementing an adherence program with every prescription would certainly help overall health outcomes, but may not also make economic sense. By keeping our product simple: a small uptick in cost, which retro-fits to the pharmacy’s existing bottle, we are able to integrate into the work flow process without disruption.
With pharmacies and manufacturers as partners, the benefits flow downstream to the other stakeholders. Physicians are seeing their prescribed regimen be efficient and most effective, caregivers are able to know for certain whether the person they are caring for has medicated as scheduled, and patients get the most of out of the medication. It’s a win for everyone.
We know that medication adherence helps empower patients. What barriers remain and why is it so important for patients to feel in control of this aspect of their treatment?
Solving the non-adherence epidemic is a daunting task. We hope that for patients: positive results, better health outcomes, and the feeling of accomplishment will empower and encourage the continuation of one’s own medication compliance. As an industry, however, we must collectively work together to put forward the best combination of tactics to help patients. The biggest barrier has historically been our own health care system, where the lack of line of sight amongst physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, etc. does not allow for all professionals to see the same picture of a patient’s health. As we move toward electronic medical records and pursue the outcome-based health care model, our professionals will be able to better prevent non-adherence by way of a more comprehensive understanding of the patient.While we believe Remind-A-Cap is a piece to the puzzle, helping the 60% of adults who cite forgetfulness as a reason for non-adherence, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all tactic. Other issues such as cost, unwanted side effects, and feeling as if they no longer need medication all contribute to the big picture of non-adherence. As we pull together programs that can cater to a patient’s individual barriers, we will make substantial progress in the war against non-adherence.