(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another article in a series spotlighting the companies that are participating in the inaugural “HealthTech Accelerator” sponsored by CO.LAB, Erlanger Health System and Unum. “Demo Day” is Wednesday. To register, click here.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Imagine that you are an individual or couple who want to age in place in the residence you’ve called home for years. Perhaps you are the son or daughter of parents who have that goal, but you don’t live close enough to check on them regularly.
A situation such as this can produce anxiety for both the parents and the child or children. Fortunately, one of the participants in the inaugural “HealthTech Accelerator” in Chattanooga is offering a solution related to one aspect of the independent living goal.
MedX Services was launched in late 2017 by Ken Lowden, a former golf professional who transitioned into the healthcare sector about 20 years ago. Based in Ooltewah just off I-75 north of Chattanooga, the start-up is focused on providing the next generation of medication management.
“We help people aging in place not have to move because of a triggering event,” says Dawn Schrader, Director of Clinical Operations. She’s a Registered Nurse with an MBA who joined MedX Services about a year ago after a varied career in healthcare including running two assisted living centers. That experience is very relevant to the way MedX Services plans to grow.
Schrader said the idea for MedX Services came to Lowden when he was attending a health fair where he saw a device that automatically dispensed an individual’s pills as they were prescribed . . . time of day, day of the week, dosage, etc. Taking prescriptions at the right time and in the proper amount is a key factor in the ability of older folks (yes, that includes me) being able to live independently.
How does the MedX Services process work? It starts with the individual’s doctor(s) preparing eScripts that are electronically sent from the physicians’ offices to the contract pharmacy used by MedX Services. The medicines are then packaged by day and, if taken at different times during the day, in individual packets for those times. The labels include the unit dosage and, if the drug might have changed in color from the last time, that change is noted.
“Spencer,” the automated pill dispenser that attracted Lowden’s attention, then alerts the individual when it is time to take the medicine. Schrader says the alerts begin at a normal audio level, but the sound is increased over time if the individual does not respond.
“If you need to take a particular drug with food or milk, Spencer reminds you to do so,” Schrader explains.
What happens if the individual does not respond to Spencer and take the drugs at the right time? Spencer could be considered part of the tele-health world, so it alerts MedX Services through a dashboard that an intervention is required. For those on pain medicines, Spencer will ask them to routinely rate their level of pain so an intervention, if required, can be executed.
The start-up has even incorporated additional Bluetooth-enabled devices that can be used to check a patient’s weight, blood pressure, and glucose levels in the blood. Those readings, along with data on compliance with the prescriptions, can also be made available in real-time to physicians and family members if the individual so chooses.
“This would save healthcare thousands of dollars if patients comply with their post-hospital recommendations and avoid being readmitted,” Schrader explains. “It’s a no-brainer.”
To illustrate the opportunity, she told us of a group of six or seven couples in the same neighborhood who have banded together on a strategy of remaining in their homes. All of the couples have children living elsewhere, so they a retrofitting their homes with wider doors, installing smart home devices, contracting-out yard work, and even forming a medical coop with a physician who has agreed to make regular house calls.
Spencer will be a key component of their ability to age in place.
“We know it (Spencer) works in individual homes,” Schrader says. “We want to be in assisted living facilities. They are a perfect place because they are helping people be independent.”
As far as the “HealthTech Accelerator,” she says that both corporate sponsors – Erlanger Health System and Unum – have “come-up with creative ideas that we had not considered.” Those will no doubt help propel growth.