For three years, Paul Hines has had an itch that won’t go away.
While at the University of Minnesota’s Medical School, he became acutely aware of the myriad of challenges facing America’s health care system, and therefore, his future career path.
But one need hit especially close to home: his own grandmother required a wakeup phone call every day at 4am with a reminder to take her medications.
“If she didn’t take them, or take the right amount, it could be perilous,” Hines says. “But it was also affecting our family, considering the tough timing.”
With a bootstrapped mentality, the team built a 3D printer, learned CAD, and designed what they consider to be a “solid prototype” on a one-off basis, including an embedded touchscreen LCD display, WiFi chip, onboard computer and an intuitive notification dashboard.
“More than half of all American’s prescribed medication are not adhering to it as necessary. That’s a $300 billion dollar per year toll on our health care system, and 125,000+ people die every year due to not taking their medications properly,” Hines says.
“We can make it easier for people to know which medication to take when, specifically for those with chronic diseases. This can save money and lives.”
Dose’s first pilot during a six week testing ground found that a patients adherence increased from 50% to 90%. Their go to market plan is through the home health care channel, initially targeting patients over 60 who routinely require multiple pills.
The product falls under FDA classification 1, making it easier to get certifed than a typical medical device, Hines explains, although part of the big picture strategy will be to achieve class 2 clearance in order to qualify under Medicare.
DOSE isn’t the first smart pill box to be made, although Hines naturally feels his offers more than the rest.
“We’re entering the market as the most affordable and versatile solution, even with our limited production runs so far,” Hines says. Yet if DOSE can create a best in class product with broad enough appeal, there’s still one elephant in the adherence room:
“We can’t force people to take their medications, but can empower people who want take the,” he acknowledges in describing those situations where a patient outright refuses to take their medications.
But that unavoidable reality isn’t detering Hines, who just ceased his residency internship at Abbott Northwestern so that he could focus exclusively DOSE and get at his entrepreneurial itch once and for all.