prescriptions

Have you looked at your doctor’s scribbles lately? Over 7,000 patients die each year thanks to miscommunication between doctors and pharmacists. Even when you know what prescription you are supposed to be getting, the doctor’s notes are sometimes barely legible. ScriptPad, a Boulder-based startup and a 2010 graduate of TechStars, wants to make sure that your doctor’s prescription will have a zero margin of error when it gets filled at the pharmacy.

ScriptPad was founded in 2010 by CEO Shane Taylor and CTO Liam David-Mead. The duo has a combined 15 years of experience building software solutions for the healthcare industry. Rounding out the team is lead developer Mat Tipton, who leads front end and client side development.

The idea for ScriptPad was born out of the observation that the healthcare industry is getting screwed by enterprise software that is archaic, ugly, and hard to use. Plus, healthcare IT companies lock large medical networks into their systems because they know that the medical system is so bureaucratic, that it is hard to switch software service providers.

ScriptPad allows doctors to use their iPhones to bring up patient records and enter in a prescription for that patient. Using the standard interface of buttons and spinners, doctors can navigate through a database of drugs before selecting the appropriate prescription. Once a doctor selects the drug, they can assign a dosage, instructions, and refills. Doctors can then send the prescription securely to the pharmacy, where it will be waiting for the patient.

The app – which is fully HIPPA compliant – uses the Surescripts prescribing network of over 65,000 local and chain pharmacies nationwide. To qualify to use ScriptPad, healthcare providers must have an NPI number, active medical license, and DEA number. So you can’t just download the app and start sending prescriptions off to a pharmacy for your buddy.

The company is has raised $12,000 from TechStars and another $420,000 from investors, including BR Venture Fund. According to the venture fund, “In America, over 1.7 billion prescriptions are handwritten every year and roughly 40 percent of these contain errors of some sort.” This represents a huge market opportunity, and ScriptPad presents a simple solution.

Watching the video as a potential patient of a tech-savvy doctor who may use ScriptPad, I have a few concerns. First, there is still a risk that your doctor will accidentally input the wrong information by inadvertently holding the spinner a second too long, or tapping two times when they meant to tap three. Anyone who has used an iPhone to type a text message knows that autocorrect is there for a reason. Because the prescription is sent right to the pharmacy without the patient double checking the doctor’s work, it could cause a major problem if the patient is not self-motivated to look at the label after picking up the medication. There is a confirmation step for doctors, but tired eyes can lead to mistakes.

The app is missing a few key features that would enhance the utility for doctors. One of these is potential drug interactions. Senior citizens and patients with chronic diseases are typically prescribed a handful of medications for the actual disease, with more medications piled on to treat the symptoms of the original medication. The more drugs a patient is prescribed, the higher the risk of dangerous drug interactions. Although the pharmacist is supposed to have this information on file, it would save a lot of time if the app could suggest a similar but safe medication for a patient if a potential dangerous interaction was flagged from within the app.

Finally, this app could be used to generate a massive amount of data for the pharmaceutical industry. The team claims that they do not sell data to third parties, and that they will notify users if they decide to do so in the future. Currently, the company generates revenue from pharmacies for every prescription that doctors send. The company plans on releasing a premium subscription version. Given the power and money that the pharmaceutical industry has in the global economy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team and its investors are tempted to sell data to third-parties if this app hits scale. I’m betting that it will.

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