PillPack – Pharmacy Simplified
PillPack – Pharmacy Simplified
A genuine problem tackled with a extremely well executed service proposal. Tough contender.
I will look forward to using it. Definitely. This one was a tough one, an almost winner. Wish we could have two winners spots.
There are many known subscription services for drugs already. That being said, this is a clever and well executed one that addresses a huge known problem. Difficult model, with an incredible difficult ecosystem. The breakthrough in my opinion is on the “”right-dose”" package.
PillPack – Pharmacy Simplified
PillPack is the first pharmacy designed to make it incredibly easy to take the right medication at the right time. We combine convenient packaging, modern technology, and personalized service to deliver a better, simpler pharmacy experience. Every two weeks, customers receive a personalized roll of pre-sorted medications, along with a recyclable dispenser. PillPack also coordinates refills and guarantees shipping of all medications on time, every time. Easy-to-use online tools allow customers to track their shipments, refills and co-pays. The components of pharmacy service at PillPack make it easy for our customers to take the right medication at the right time.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 50% of patients do not take their prescription drugs properly, leading to poor health outcomes and unnecessary health care expenditure. Medication non-adherence in the United States alone is estimated to cost the system $290 billion. This problem is particularly acute for the 30 million people (1 in 10) in the United States are prescribed to five or more daily medications.
Many of these people have chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, for which a missed or doubled dose is both common and very dangerous. Research suggests that by helping people understand their medicines better and simplifying medication management using appropriate tools, compliance rates can be increased and better outcomes achieved.
PillPack takes on the challenge of developing a comprehensive pharmacy service to remove the barriers that prevent people from taking the right medication at the right time.
PillPack’s service addresses three core reasons people chronically mismanage medications: physical difficulty, lack of clear information, and lack of access to consultation.
We set about to address each of these three problems:
Physical difficulty. Retail pharmacies do not synchronize start dates for customers with multiple prescriptions, so customers have no choice but to pick up each prescription separately.The customer often neglects to pick up a prescription, missing the start date by a critical day or two or more. PillPack synchronizes medications with a 14-day cycle, aligning start dates to the calendar week, so customers always know which day of the week their medications start. Further, PillPack delivers medications to the customers doorstep, so they always have meds they need on hand.
Lack of clear information. When someone begins a routine of multiple medications they must make their own schedule by reading small-print medical information guides. They create a tracking and sorting system to try to take each medication at the right time every day. Many people use pill organizers that are refilled by hand and prone to manual error. PillPack delivers medications pre-sorted and clearly labeled with the date and time each packet should be taken. This removes the burden of self-management burden and offers a ready-to-use solution.
Lack of access to consultation. Pharmacy customers pick up medication in a busy store, with very little privacy. It’s impossible to ask any sensitive questions. PillPack customers reach their pharmacist directly on the phone or via email at any time. With access to consultation, customers can work through side effects to find a sustainable regimen instead of stopping medication or taking it incorrectly.
PillPack was co-founded by TJ Parker, a second-generation pharmacist, who spent most of his life watching people struggle with managing their medications -- dozens of pill bottles, weekly trips to the pharmacy and time-consuming DIY organization -- while their pharmacists had limited resources to help. The entire system was complicated, confusing and did little to support health or wellness. TJ had one foot in the the stagnant world of pharmacy and one foot in the fast-paced realm of design and technology, and he always thought there was a better way.
While finishing pharmacy school, TJ met Elliot Cohen through MIT’s Hacking Medicine. They started PillPack to prove that managing meds could actually be simple. They recognized that fixing pharmacy requires actually building a better pharmacy. Until customers had an alternative to traditional retail pharmacy, no app or smart pill box could truly effect the problem. After making it their mission to challenge traditional retail pharmacies, TJ and Elliot focused first on helping the people with the toughest problem - the 30 million US adults (1 in 10) who take more than 5 prescription medications a day.
From the beginning, PillPack’s mission has been to deliver a delightful customer experience. We believe that simple, convenient service empowers regular people to take medications correctly and achieve better overall wellness. As part of this mission, PillPack worked as a startup-in-residency with IDEO Boston. An IDEO design team helped to redefine how consumers engage with their pharmacy. The collaboration focused on making sure that every moment customers interact with PillPack, from signing up for the service online to using its product daily, was straightforward and reassuring. Together IDEO and PillPack designed the most critical aspects of its customer experience, refining the company’s brand vision, strategy, and identity across channels and used this framework to completely redesign PillPack’s website and private dashboard for logged-in customers. This helped us gain a strong understanding of their customers, a well-articulated product and service, and a human-centered approach to improving consumer healthcare.
PillPack is a full-service pharmacy available in 33 states. We believe that by making it incredibly simple to take medications correctly, our customers will be able to take meds as prescribed without the hassles, nagging, reminders and frustration usually associated with medication. As a result they will be able to achieve better health and wellness.
PillPack combines well-designed packaging, personalized service, and modern technology to create a system that enables people to take the right medication at the right time - resulting in healthier, happier customers who have more time to spend living well instead of managing medications. Our customer's reactions are a testament to this effort:
“My life just instantly improved so, so significantly. Thank you PillPack, you are amazing!”
– Amanda, customer
“I had NO idea how cool and easy the product would be and worried some things wouldn't be included, therefore would have to go to the drug store anyway. I'm actually still in shock over how great and easy PillPack is.”
- Amy, customer
PillPack offers an elevated promise of service, simplicity and care. By continuously delivering on this promise we have won a customer base that not only enjoys their relationship with PillPack as a pharmacy but also finds it easier to manage medication correctly.
PillPack keeps our interactions with our customers as straight-forward as possible. We make it simple to switch to PillPack and simple to stay on top of medications once you're a PillPack customer.
These are the key engagements:
(1) The patient / customer decides to fill prescriptions with PillPack and provides their name, address, date of birth, last four digits of their SSN and their current pharmacy to PillPack either online or over the phone.
(2) PillPack pharmacists call the customers current pharmacy to transfer their prescriptions and retrieve insurance information
(3) PillPack bills the insurance company and the patient as appropriate based on insurance coverage
(4) For new prescriptions, the doctor/HCP can e-scribe, fax or call in prescriptions similarly to any retail pharmacy.
Our customers don’t have to learn new patterns of behavior, they are simply able to manage prescription medications in a way that makes sense and fits into their life.
Anyone who has ever even tried to take an antibiotic or oral contraceptive every day knows that it can be hard to take medications correctly. Image trying to manage 5, 6, 7 or even dozens of medications. We realized that there had to be a better way that the current system of counting pills, coordinating medications and navigating a complex system that causes frequent and often serious errors and evaluated a few options before realizing we need to create an end-to-end service that is built around the customers needs.
For example, lots of very cool products and services have been introduced around medication management - ranging from apps, to smart pill bottles, to redesigned labels. But after studying these tools, we came to believe that to truly impact the pharmacy experience you have to actually build a new kind of pharmacy from the ground up. We expect that we’ll work on additional products, services and apps in the future but it will fall under that umbrella of a company whose core mission is to deliver a simplified pharmacy experience from end-to-end.
By working this way, we’re not guessing where a single product or service might fit in. We understand the entire customer journey and are able to make very smart decisions about where to introduce new technology, where to simplify a complication and where you maybe just need a human being to step in and answer a customer’s questions.
When it comes to specific features of our current service, we spent a lot of time speaking with potential customers to understand their frustrations with traditional pharmacy. Potential customers noted frustration with multiple trips to the pharmacy, trouble sorting and organizing medications, lack of information to help them understand their own routine, and hardships around coordinating doctors, insurance and the pharmacy for prescription refill and renewal.
We also read previous literature on adherence programs to understand what was successful and what was not. Rather than try to recapitulate a previous academic study, we worked on incorporating the core principles into our service. These include accessible medical information, improved packaging and readily available consultation.