Head into any CVS or Walgreens and you should be able to locate the blue hue of a pill organizer that helps you remind yourself of what day and time you need to take any medicine.
But Michael Ramirez and his Greenville, S.C.,-based company, ApotheSource Inc., have introduced Pill Fill, new app that doesn’t just tell you what to take. It tells you why to take it and more, arming a patient with as much medical information as possible.
“A patient can do a lot if they have their information,” says Ramirez, who graduated from NC State in 2005 with a computer science degree.”‘Patient engagement’ is the new buzz word.”
Pill Fill, which went live early in 2014, allows a person to house all of their medication information under one umbrella. After a user downloads the app, he or she enters their pharmacy and insurance information. About 30 seconds later, Ramirez says, the app is able to provide them with a list of all their medications and information about those medications provided by National Institute of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services. A user might get an alert where the prescription might be available at a lower cost and directions to a specific pharmacy.
The point is medication management and empowering a patient with the knowledge about what those medications can do in the context of all the others he or she is taking. Ramirez, whose wife is a pharmacist, adds the information goes beyond that provided by other pharmacy apps that provide general information.
“You’re going to get the doctor who prescribed it and the pharmacy that dispensed it,” he says of Pill Fill’s functions. “But you’re also going to get where they went to medical school and what they’re prescribing to other patients.”
Ramirez, 31, says the app may soon have the capability to reveal a doctor’s procedure cost relative to other providers in your area. Because of all the sensitive information, Ramirez says he spends most of his time focusing on the app’s security model so that a patient’s privacy is protected during every use.
So far, Pill Fill has gained a couple thousand users and has pulled in more than 10,000 prescriptions, despite some push back from chain pharmacies — because the app sometimes recommends community pharmacies. And while Ramirez says other organizations have attempted to compile such information in the past, they’ve done it for hospitals, not individuals.
“There’s nothing like this that has been done before,” he says.