BOSTON -- Jessica Vander Veer's treatment regimen -- after a sudden seizure in her sleep led to the discovery of a five-millimeter cancerous brain tumor -- included a bewildering array of 12 medications.
The 29-year-old Rochester, N.Y., woman, a senior 401K administration support specialist, turned to the Apple App Store, where she found and downloaded the free Medisafe medication adherence app to manage her complex pill and injection protocol.
Medisafe, a startup based in Boston and founded by two Israeli brothers after their father accidentally took a dangerous extra dose of insulin, was among 10 innovative mHealth products showcased last month at Connected Health Symposium 2015.
"I was searching for apps to remind me to take my medications and Medisafe was the most useful for me," Vander Veer told SearchHealthIT.
Vander Veer's cancer has been in remission for about a year, but she is still on two important medications and still using the app, which is available for Amazon, Android and iOS devices.
In this video interview with SearchHealthIT, recorded at Connected Health, Jon Michaeli, Medisafe's executive vice president for marketing and business development, said the medication adherence app now has more than two million individual users.
Michaeli talked about how Medisafe is in the midst of building in Facebook-like social media capabilities to its cloud-based platform, to give users personalized insights.
Meanwhile, Michaeli said, the company has entered into partnerships with other health IT and mHealth companies, such as GoodRX Inc. and Human API and has conducted studies of its own users to demonstrate the medicine adherence app's effectiveness.
One study showed users who reported blood pressure readings to Medisafe via Wi-Fi-or Bluetooth-enabled cuffs showed reduction in systolic blood pressure levels among hypertensive and prehypertensive patients.
As for corporate users or "partners," as Medisafe calls them, Doug Hirsch, co-CEO and co-founder of GoodRX -- another mHealth app that searches out the lowest-cost prescription medicine deals and is loaded onto the Medisafe platform -- said he thinks healthcare providers also see the advantages of working with startups such as his and Medisafe. Among those benefits: patients who can afford their medications and take them the right way.
And Hirsch said the missions of GoodRx and Medisafe are similar: helping healthcare consumers engage more with their own healthcare.
While the GoodRX-Medisafe relationship is still only a few months old, "we've definitely seen people come over from Medisafe to check pricing on GoodRX," he said.
Check out the full video transcript below:
Shaun Sutner: Jessica Vander Veer's brain cancer has been in remission for more than a year. But like those of so many cancer survivors, the 29-year-old Rochester, New York resident's story is an agonizing one. A sudden seizure in her sleep, diagnosis of a five-millimeter tumor, surgery and then prolonged recovery accompanied by a complex regimen of a dozen medications.
Vander Veer was able to keep track of all those pills and injections with a smartphone app from Medisafe, a Boston-based mHealth startup. She used Medisafe's nagging mother reminder voice. Regional accents, including a Boston one, are also available. Vander Veer found Medisafe on the Apple app store.
Jessica Vander Veer: Before I got sick and had a seizure, I was very type A. I liked to be in control. After I was struggling with not being able to have that control, I was put on eight different medications, multiple doses a day, and half a pill a day. So, I couldn't keep track of all of that. And that fell on my soon-to-be husband.
Vander Veer's husband: All I had was several alarms on my phone and a note. Eventually, I did have to go back to work.
Vander Veer: When he had to go back to work, it would be my responsibility to take those medications. So, I downloaded a few applications, and the one that I found that worked best was Medisafe. And now, like, I know when I'm supposed to take my medications, but I still have it and I still use it and I mark off when I take them. It's actually been very helpful for me.
Sutner: Vander Veer's video was playing in Medisafe's booth at the 2015 Connected Health Symposium in Boston when SearchHealthIT sat down with Medisafe's Executive Vice President for Marketing and Business Development, Jon Michaeli, to shoot this video. Medisafe was founded in 2012 by two Israeli brothers, Omri and Rotem Shor, after their father accidentally took an extra dose of insulin and found himself in medical distress. Now Medisafe is one of the most popular medication adherence apps. According to the company, its cloud-based technology is used by more than two million people, like Vander Veer.
Michaeli: We built Medisafe from the ground up for the patient, and we think that is differentiating us from the rest of the market. We obsessed over the user experience with the patient. At the end of the day, if patients don't take their meds, nothing else matters. They're the ones who are sick and they're the ones who need to take the action and change that behavior. So, our product is continually getting accolades. We have 90,000 reviews in the App Store with an average rating of four and a half.
And we're fortunate to be able to draft off of that and then engage with hospitals and payers and others in the care continuum, in the health system, to show them the validation we already have from consumers and then to start to share with them the validation that we have, the clinical data, the outcomes data that we've started to share at the conference.
Sutner: In addition to individual users, Medisafe has several corporate partners, such as GoodRx, Inc., whose app is loaded on the Medisafe mobile app and helps users find lower cost prescription drugs. "Medisafe has sort of a complimentary mission to us," GoodRx CEO Doug Hirsch told SearchHealthIT. "We're built on the proposition of helping healthcare and consumers make good business decisions, and they are too."
Michaeli: So, for now, we are taking an approach of working through middleware companies, and that means that they are integrating, interfacing with the EHR, and we're receiving data from those systems. So they're aggregators, if you will, and to some degree, normalizing that data. It is a goal eventually for Medisafe to be integrated with EHRs, but that's going to take some time, and I think it needs to bubble up from showing the demand on the part of the consumer to showing the demand in the clinical setting from clinicians, from doctors, from hospital systems, and reporting back to the EHR as the technology they want to see in the future.