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Group Net’s FreeRxReminder: Mobile Pill Reminder Platform

Posted Sep 21 2009 11:14pm

Imagine for a moment that you’re one of the 87% of Americans 65 years or older who rely on one or more prescription drugs for your health. Now imagine you’re one of the millions of those patients who, for whatever reason, have difficulty remembering and maintaining those regimens. For older Americans and even younger adults, keeping up with prescriptions can be difficult, but absolutely crucial. It’s trite but true-medication you don’t take, can’t work.

The above scenario is more common than you might think. Almost 60% with prescribed medication regimens fail to adhere to them, with more than half of that group falling behind in the first twelve months, with these numbers increasing in older age groups. It’s a serious issue, too. Around 125,000 deaths a year and 25% of all hospital and nursing home admissions are the result of patients straying from a medication schedule.

FreeRxReminder is an online and mobile service that looks to leverage the cultural ubiquity of cell-phone messaging as a way to deliver regular medication reminders to patients. “The strategy is to help those that have to take medication on a daily basis get easy reminders via mobile and email. It is an easy way to help those that may forget,” says Rex Bowden, CEO of Group Net, the company behind FreeRxReminder.

Group Net is based out of Baton Rouge and is responsible for several other pharma services, including providing subscription vouchers and discount prescription cards to customers. Currently the group does not turn a profit from FreeRxReminder, but is looking for opportunities to monetize.

freerx1 The site allows users to enter each of their prescriptions, along with dosage information and a specified time for each. The user then chooses between e-mail reminders, SMS reminders, or a printable medication schedule. Each drug is accompanied with a brief description, handy for patients with many different regimens and occasional confusion about what exactly does what.

However, while the company’s press release stresses that the ubiquity of cell phones (citing 90% of Americans as owning and regularly using a mobile phone) makes them a logical platform for medication reminders, the technology involved may in fact turn out to be a hurdle for those who could use this service the most.

freerx2 Bowden states that the average demographic for FreeRxReminder is women of around 45, but as stated above, senior citizens are the group taking the most medication and having the most difficulty remembering them. Will senior citizens, only 65% of whom even have cell phones, be open to taking advantage of e-mail and SMS reminders? “Yes, there is still a learning curve with text messaging, but this is the largest growing demographic getting the internet and using these ‘new’ services” says Bowden.

FreeRxReminder looks to address a universal flaw on the patient side of healthcare with the aid of technology. Whether or not the aging demographic most dependent on pill regimens decides to embrace this and similar media platforms depends on many factors, including accessibility and evolving cultural views of new information mediums. Bowen’s program, still in beta, is a promising step towards bringing the fruits of the digital age to older consumers.

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