Former Apple exec Dr Sai Lakshmi and former LloydsPharmacy exec Stephen Bourke have launched a healthcare startup called Echo.
The startup, which has been backed with £1.8 million, has built an app that aims to help patients on long-term medication to manage their prescriptions.
Echo allows its users to make medication requests through the app which are sent to their existing NHS GP for approval. Once approved, prescriptions are sent to Echo’s partner pharmacies for dispensing, and dispatched by Royal Mail. The service is free, meaning users only pay the standard prescription charge of £8.40 per item, while those that are entitled to free prescriptions pay nothing.
The idea has been funded by LocalGlobe, the venture capital company set up by prominent father and son investors Robin Klein and Saul Klein, as well as Global Founders Capital, which is funded by Rocket Internet founder Oliver Samwer.
The Echo app launched on Tuesday alongside new study from research firm Aurora (albeit commissioned by Echo) which found that people in full-time employment are least likely to follow GP guidelines, with a fifth regularly running out of medicine.
The study, which surveyed 1,000 people across the UK, also found that patients aged 25-34 years are the worst at making sure they take their medicine, with 37% admitting they occasionally forget to request a repeat subscription in time. Of those surveyed, 27% admitted that they'd had to book an emergency GP appointment in order to obtain a repeat prescription, while 7% had to go to A&E.
The Aurora study also found that men are twice as likely as women to require an emergency appointment as a result of not having the medication they need.
Lakshmi, who worked as a business development manager at Apple for three years, said the research confirmed what he and Bourke believed. "Half of all under 65s now take a repeat prescription but the pressures of juggling kids and careers means many are not taking their medication properly," he said. "This is a huge drain on the NHS."
When asked how Echo intends to make money, Lakshmi told Business Insider: "At present, we have a Deliveroo/Uber style model where we take a cut of the gross profit from our pharmacy partners.
"Going forward, our aim is to become the only platform that a patient needs to manage their health, so we’ll be rolling out a number of other products and services for enhanced condition management. It’s unlikely that the NHS would pay for these but they’ll be offered as optional extras for end-consumers."
Lakshmi added that forgetfulness is the number one reason for not adhering to a medication plan. "With UK smartphone penetration passing 80%, there’s a huge opportunity to use mobile technology to nudge people towards better health," he said. "We want to make adherence the path of least resistance, significantly improving health outcomes and reducing waste."
Bourke added in a statement: "We both take repeat medication so Echo was born out of our shared frustration with a system that’s confusing and has yet to properly take advantage of mobile technology.
"There are too many barriers to obtaining a repeat prescription, from having to take time off work to attend a GP appointment, to the pharmacy not having enough medication in stock. Echo brings the whole process to your smartphone, with delivery to your door. Our goal is to simplify things, maximising medication possession, minimising fuss."
Ophelia Brown, an investor at LocalGlobe, told Business Insider: "The NHS desperately needs solutions like Echo that will save it millions of pounds a year from reduced wastage and enabling doctors to spend time treating patients rather than on pointless admin."
She added: "We're honoured to be able to support the Echo team on their mission."
Originally posted here.
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