PillPack: a new way of thinking about an old problem

By | February 4, 2014

I read a Wall Street Journal article this morning about an online pharmacy called PillPack that’s doing something a little different. “PillPack mails its customers their medications every two weeks, but rather than putting them into several big bottles, the company pre-sorts them into sealed, single-dose packs, based on when a patient needs to take their medications throughout the day. The pills arrive in a long chain of dose packs, linked together on a recyclable dispenser roll.

It’s not a new concept at all. In fact, the idea has been tossed around in certain pharmacy circles for years. Many companies are capable of providing such a service, but most lack the vision to bring the concept to life. Perhaps PillPack can provide enough value to its customers to make it viable. I really hope it works out for the company. At least they’re thinking outside the box, er, inside the box.

PillPack should really think about partnering with local hospitals and deliver discharge meds to the patient bedside in this handy format. Counsel the patient, make sure they have their meds, automatically enroll them in the mail order service, and so on. Just sayin’.

5 thoughts on “PillPack: a new way of thinking about an old problem

  1. Jim Longo

    Agreed Jerry, this idea has been around for a long time, and the packaging technology to support it is readily available. The biggest obstacle to widespread adoption in retail/outpatient pharmacy would seem to be the cost of the packaging, but with more and more emphasis on medication adherence and its potential impact on readmissions in an ACO environment, this approach may finally get traction.

  2. Jerry Fahrni Post author

    What you say makes sense, Jim. Perhaps it is time. I think the concept passes muster, but I think the technology and/or model needs some work. Get a couple of big retail chains on board and things would be much easier.

  3. Eugene S Khan

    Jerry, the PillPack concept sounds so similar to Walgreens DailyMed pillbox. I think Walgreens have already patented the idea to delivery and counsel at bedside so maybe PillPack might need to partnered with a large retail chain to move beyond just being a mail order Rx. What are your thoughts?

  4. Jerry Fahrni Post author

    I’m not familiar with Walgreens DailyMed. I just checked out the website. It seems similar, but the site is pretty crappy in terms of providing information. Not sure I buy that Walgreens could patent the idea of bedside delivery and consultation. That would be like Pizza Hut patenting pizza delivery. If you have a link to the patent I’d love to see it. Just doesn’t seem possible. In terms of PillPack partnering with a large retail chain, I’d be careful. Chains are notorious for screwing over “the little guys” that threaten their way of life; interesting story and some inside information to go along with that. If I were PillPack I’d stay away from the chains and look at working with the smaller independents. There are still plenty of those out there, and they tend to stick together. Just my two cents for what it’s worth.

  5. Eugene S Kahn

    No I do not have a link. Thanks for the quick reply though.

    I just cannot imagine PillPack not partnering with the major chains and surviving beyond their start up phase much less growth given Affordable Care Act calls for accountability throughout the continuum of care.

    Just saying IMPO

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