Australian virtual pharmacy startup MedAdvisor is preparing for a backdoor listing on the ASX after naming former private equity manager Robert Read as its new CEO.
MedAdvisor, which helps patients manage their medications by linking them with their pharmacist, entered into an agreement with Australian resources company Exalt for an acquisition last month, with the startup hoping to raise $5 million in order to increase its marketing efforts and develop new features.
The idea for the app came to founder and CTO Josh Swinnerton, based in Melbourne, after he saw a big demand for compliance apps in the US.
Read explained, “No one had really developed them as a network or agnostic platform, and that’s the biggest shortcoming for these apps worldwide; one pharmacy has done it, or one drug company has done it, but none have done it where they’ve positioned the patient as the hero or focus.”
A study published last year found that 20 to 30 percent of each dollar spent in the US healthcare system had been spent wastefully, with a part of the problem patient nonadherence to prescribed medications. This leads to poor therapeutic outcomes, worsening of disease, and more spent on avoidable direct healthcare costs.
“If the doctor’s expecting you to take 12 asthma scripts a year and you’re only taking 3 or 4 and you’re not getting the health benefit the doctor’s expecting you to have, so you’re likely to have more asthma attacks. It’s an important area of concern for governments and others who are paying for healthcare, and an issue for patients,” Read said.
“Patients don’t comply with medication for a whole host of reasons. Sometimes they forget, or they don’t have a script available, or don’t understand how to use the drug properly.”
Through the app, the patient can see all the medications they’ve been prescribed, how many days they have left of it, and when they should take it, with MedAdvisor sending dosage alerts to remind patients to take their medication. When they get low on a medication, a patient can order a refill from their pharmacy through the app and have the pharmacist notify them when it’s ready to pick up.
The app has developed a solid user base thanks to its partnerships with pharmacies and health insurance provider Bupa; it’s had over 275,000 downloads across the Android and iOS app stores, with just over 85,000 patients of various ages using the app regularly. The app also has a carer feature to help carers of older patients, or parents, to keep track of someone else’s medication. According to Read, MedAdvisor has found patients using the app are 20 percent more compliant with taking their medication than patients who are not.
Twenty-five percent of Australian pharmacies are paid subscribers of MedAdvisor; the main benefit for pharmacies is the customer loyalty developed through the app.
The startup will be looking to integrate a number of new features into the app, including the ability for patients and pharmacists to communicate with doctors. Fellow Australian healthcare startup, Doctus, allows patients to request scripts from their GPs online and have medication delivered to a patient’s door, a concept MedAdvisor is looking at.
Another is facilitating the reporting of a ‘home review’, where a pharmacist goes to a patient’s home to review the medications being taken, how – or whether – they’re working, and whether there are any side effects.
With the ASX listing to come over the next month or two, international expansion is also on the horizon.
Featured Image: Hannah Thomson uses MedAdvisor for her son Vincent and for herself. Source: Canberra Times. Photo credit: Jamila Toderas.