1st September 2014: Startup of the week: MediSafe

For this 'Startup of the week' post, I caught up with Omri Shor, founder and CEO of Israeli startup, MediSafe.

[Disclosure: I have no commercial ties with MediSafe]


1. What is MediSafe?
MediSafe is a data driven Medication Management Platform, designed to understand the personal causes of medication non-adherence and use this information in real time to create better patient engagement and raise medication adherence.
MediSafe is rapidly being accepted by patients and caretakers. With 850,000 downloads (200% growth in Q1 2014) and data on over 45,000,000 medication doses, our consumer Virtual Pillbox app rating is 4.5/5* (by 35,000 raters), best in it's category. We won QPrize (Qualcomm Ventures’ annual competition, $250K prize), hold the "Digital Health World Cup" from Stanford and recently named the #4 “most innovative company in healthcare” by Fast Company.

2. Could you explain the essence of MediSafe, i.e it's core values?
We have three main core values: social support, technological innovation & passion. 
We aim to create a social support system around the patient, allowing him/her to continue on with their lives, and take one more thing off their to do list. Our technology is empowered by the individuals using and supporting it, and we are able to create MediSafe because of the passionate team behind it, working to make a positive impact. 

3. What's the business model you're operating under? 
Medisafe's B2B2C business model is based on creating an eco-system that supports medication management. We collaborate with pharmaceutical companies, drug stores retailers, health insurers, employers and health providers. 
I will be moving to the United States in the fall of 2014, to expand our presence in this market.   

4. Is there anyone else doing the same as you?
There are a few medication management platforms that we consider as competitors, addressing the challenge of medication non-adherence from different perspectives, such as gamification. I believe we have several competitive advantages, primarily our connectivity and expansion to other platforms, such as wearables and web. Our focus on a great user experience is also an important feature.

5. Was there one moment which compelled you to begin the journey of working on MediSafe?
We, Rotem Shor (CTO) and myself, were inspired to found MediSafe about two years ago after our diabetic father double-dosed on his medication. With no solution at hand for managing his medications, my father failed to take his medication on time, which lead to a potentially dangerous situation (which he successfully overcame). This inspired us to try and help patients be more engaged with their health, and take control of managing their medications properly. We also understood the value of creating a social support system to help patients along the way. That’s why MediSafe’s first important feature was to connect family members, so now, for example, I know when my father forgets to take his insulin, because I receive a notification encouraging me to check up on him. 

6. What have reactions to MediSafe been? Do different people perceive it differently?
Our growth has been amazing. We were fortunate to be featured on both Google Play and the App Store. Within a year of the launce of our solution, we are now very close to have a million users. We have users all around the world, and we discovered how global the need for support in medication management is. When I speak with people, folks who are not familiar with the costly challenge of medication non-adherence, they ask "is this a real problem? Aren’t there a thousand reminder Apps out there?” I always explain to them that MediSafe is a platform – a tool to support them in managing their medication, not only through reminders, but through connectivity to family, friends and physicians, across different solutions, such as mobile and web. Our users understand the distinction, and we are thankful to them for helping us grow and learn, becoming the leading medication management solution.  

7. You were the 1st Digital Health on the Android Wear platform, which is to be applauded. How come you are still the only health app on Android Wear? What was the driver for MediSafe wanting to have a presence on Android Wear from day of launch?  
I think this is an exciting time. And I am sure more will follow our lead. With technology leaders such as Apple, Google, and Samsung, taking active steps in the healthcare space, there are so many opportunities.  
Platforms like Apple’s HealthKit, Google’s Android Wear and Fit, and Samsung’s S Health and SAMI, we see opportunities to combine health data from other apps and wearables with our own data about the user’s medications. This will help in finding patterns in how people consume medicine. I have a smartwatch, and it tells me how many steps I walked today. If a patient is taking an antidepressant, the number of steps s/he took today matters – if s/he was active, and took many steps, it can mean that the medication is actually working. If the patient changed her/his patterns of behavior, it could mean something’s wrong, and the physician should look into the data and try to understand why. Maybe the patient is taking the medicine at the wrong time, or maybe s/he is taking it with another drug. This is powerful information we want to provide to the patient and physician to empower their decision making.  

8. Given that Silicon Valley is the world's innovation hub, it's inspiring to see an Israeli startup like MediSafe. Do you see more ground breaking innovations in Digital Health coming from outside Silicon Valley?
Innovation is everywhere. And the digital health market is on fire. There are so many interesting endeavors – I have never seen so much interest from investors like the interest there is today.  Specifically in Israel, I love the startup ecosystem here. Entrepreneurs are more than happy to share their knowledge. It’s a dynamic and geographically small country - a benefit to the startup community, allowing ease of access to high impact companies. I’m sure we will see interesting digital health startups emerge from different markets, including Israel, Brazil and China. 

9.    What are the weaknesses of MediSafe and what are you doing to address them?
Our location is both a strength and weakness. We are based in a country which is a fertile ground for innovation. At the same time our market is abroad, and that is why we are expanding to the US.

10. Two years from now, in 2016, what would success for MediSafe look like? What are the barriers to success?
MediSafe is the bridge connecting the stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem in the world of medication management. Empowering patients, contributing to the improvement of quality of care, and helping reduce healthcare costs associated with medication non-adherence.
For a young startup, some of our challenges are resource constraints and the need to remain focus. We address these issues by working as a team, supporting each other in the decision making process, and keeping each other on the path to success.  

11.  If people feel inspired by your journey, and want to do something with technology to improve Global Health, what would your words of wisdom be?
Be stubborn. Don’t doubt yourself. Make sure you wake up every morning with that initial passion that got you moving in the first place.

MediSafe is on Twitter and click here for the MediSafe website.