Tracking the Journey of a Pill
By Deepa Natarajan
Medtech start-up Caredose ensures that patients never fail to take their medications on time, writes Deepa Natarajan
Medication non-adherence has often proved to be a mammoth hurdle on the road to effective and efficient healthcare. The inability of a patient to take medications as per the prescription on time and in correct doses, medication non-adherence (NA) costs the pharma industry a fortune every year and affects every other part of the healthcare sector as well such as hospitals, public health programmes, health insurance companies, doctors etc.
Many factors lead to NA such as the lack of a doctor’s time to explain the medication schedule properly to patients or even simpler reasons like a genuine forgetfulness on part of patients. The pharmacy dispensing error rates are very high in the country too with alternative or expired medicines being handed out to the customers often.
Whatever the reason may be, NA is a common and costly affair. While according to Capgemini, the pharmaceutical industry loses a whopping 637 billion dollars each year because of NA; in 2013, a study conducted by Cutting Edge Information revealed that in the US alone, almost 50 percent of patients don’t take their medicines as prescribed leading to a loss of over 290 billion dollars. So in developing countries like India, the loss is estimated to be even higher owing to factors such as the poor socio-economic conditions of a majority of patients or the lack of access to quality drugs.
The problem is so vast that a mere app reminder alert isn’t enough. Rather, something more comprehensive is required. And that is precisely why Gauri Angrish, a biotechnologist by education, decided to set up Caredose along with her ex-colleagues Kinshuk Kocher and Shrivatsa Somany in Delhi in 2016.
During her early years in the healthcare industry, Gauri worked in the pharmaceutical and medical device vertical of McKinsey and even opened her own pharma store in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi. This was the period when she realized the big problem that NA posed to the entire industry. “Pharmacies lose out on potential patient retention and as for the patients, their ailment will not progress positively if they don’t take their medications on time or in right doses,” she explains.
A medtech startup, Caredose is a technology, packaging and data company that ensures that you take your medicines on time and as prescribed by the doctor. Operating on a B2B2C model, it works with patients and healthcare entities to ensure complete medication adherence. To sum it all, it enables the tracking of a pill from purchase to consumption.
Some of its operations include multi-dose dispensers, timely dose reminders and automated refills for the patients. Explaining the process further, Gauri says, “There is a multi-dose dispenser for patients which is already labelled and pre-sorted in the language of their choice. The patients then get a reminder for each dose so they always take the right medicine at the right time. There is also a smart attachment for the dispenser that tracks down when a patient is supposed to take the medication and alerts the family too. Then there are automated refills delivered on time so that patients never run out of medicines. At the end of it, an adherence report card is sent to the doctor for the next visit.”
All this is done with the help of DoseDroid, an automated multi-dose packaging robot, with in-built quality controls that cuts medicines into unit pills, retaining the manufacturers packaging; sorts medicines according to prescribed doses; labels each dose pouch with dosage directions, in various languages and tracks manufacturers information and maintains traceability of each unit pill. Assuring that the entire system is extremely cost-effective, Gauri adds, “The complete service is available to consumers for between Rs 200 – 350 per month, depending on number of doses.”
Caredose also partners with healthcare entities and enables them with technology to optimize patient care, streamline supply chain and provide data to increase their market value and brand presence. Its current partners are MAX Healthcare, Apollo Pharmacy, Clinton Health Access Initiative, DOTS, WHO to name a few.
Operating in Delhi and NCR at the moment, Caredose hopes to offer its services across the globe by partnering with various healthcare entities. Additionally, the team also aims to cover more ailments in addition to the chronic ailments that are its current focus.
As for Gauri personal achievements, she is a Forbes Asia top 30 under 30 Honouree for Healthcare and Science, 2018, a certified NASDAQ Milestone Maker, a TEDx speaker and has received multiple patents and approvals (India & Global). On being asked to define success, she says, “Accolades are fun but the novelty of everything dies down really fast. So at the end of the day, it’s all boils down to hard work.”