More than half of Americans—adults and children--are on chronic medications. Failure to take that medication can result in disastrous personal and financial consequences. With organ transplants, lack of adherence can mean graft loss and even death. In diabetes, it can translate into increased complication and organ failure. In HIV+ individuals, failure to adhere to prescribed medical regimens can mean increased conversion rates to AIDS.
There are significant financial losses as well: non-adherence costs the pharmaceutical industry alone an estimated $100 to 300 billion each year—and that’s on top of other financial losses due to increased complications and hospital readmissions.
Play-it Health, one of the first six companies to be eligible for funding the Digital Sandbox KC, has found a way to make taking medications and following medical regimes easier, and even fun, with the most comprehensive, innovative, and responsive adherence system to date. By working with the Sandbox’s resources and corporate partners, Play-it Health hopes to transform an innovative idea into a solid business.
An Easier Pill to Swallow
Dr. Kimberly Gandy, founder and CEO, had been confronted firsthand with the devastating consequences of nonadherence. She had watched patients, young and old, die due to an inability to adhere to complex medical regimens. As a clinician, she began to devise systems to solve this problem—and save lives.
Since some of the most problematic patients are adolescents, her solutions began using information technology, and more specifically, mobile information technology. With diverse software products, including apps, eBooks, games and web worlds, Dr. Gandy and Play-it Health have developed a system to engage patients more effectively.
For example, smartphone applications give tailored medication reminders, facilitate contact with caregivers and include motivational games, rewards and education. Another example, Play-it Health’s customizable eBooks provide an engaging approach to typically dry medical content by incorporating animated illustrations and pop quizzes.
Play-it Health has also identified a critical and missing link in other approaches to adherence. The medical system currently lacks the resources and capacity to monitor, analyze and continuously update the information necessary to provide optimal support to improve adherence to medical regimens. Play-it Health is developing a system to provide these services. Though the mainstay of the system is an automated component, these services will be backed by significant clinical expertise.
With all of this serious work as a backdrop, Dr. Gandy's daughter, Erica, wanted to make sure that Dr. Gandy did not forget to incorporate fun into her thinking. Erica was sure that fun would translate into participation. She began to draw and describe schematics of how she wanted games and medication administration to interface, a process that led to some of the first proposed products of Play-it Health.
Where Innovators Comes to Play
“Play-it Health is a great example of the Digital Sandbox KC partnering with an incredible entrepreneur to help solve a very serious real world problem,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC. “Dr. Gandy has used her vast expertise in the adolescent transplant field to find a better way to encourage younger patients to fully follow their post transplant medical adherence.”
“Within the Sandbox, we are hoping to gain the guidance necessary to take our company from a good idea with a solid foundation to a company with a means and end to moving forward with a sound, revenue generating model,” says Dr. Gandy. “The seed funding will allow us to move further to achieving these goals.”