As I’ve written before, medication adherence is an undeniably critical problem for the healthcare system. Most startups in this area have taken the approach of finding novel ways to remind or monitor the patient about medication, with the assumption that the problem is forgetfulness. Instead, PictureRx offers something that tries to solve a much more fundamental cause of poor adherence- lack of understanding your medications.

I heard Sunil Kripalani (PictureRx founder) speak at a Kaiser Permanente Garfield Center event earlier this month. Some of the data he presented was quite eye-opening. More than a third of Americans have basic or below basic health literacy levels (see National Assessment of Adult Literacy 2006 here) and some of the written drug information formats today haven’t been revised in decades (like rx bottle lables, package inserts, etc.).

PictureRx offers a visual aggregation of all medication relevant information for the patient. What does the pill look like, when to take it, how to take it, why should you take it… are all laid out in a simple format.

Verbal instructions at doctors office are often forgotten. And labels on pill bottles dispensed at retail pharmacies tend to be confusing, especially for the population demographic that takes the majority of prescribed medications- seniors. Patients who clearly understand when, how or why they take a medication are less likely to have events like missing a dose, wrong dose or running out.

Medication management is one of the spaces where an incremental improvement of  single-digit percent can mean huge improvement in outcomes and cost savings for the healthcare system overall. Simplified instructions, with clear emphasis on the important aspects of medication regimen can be a much more fundamental change agent than sophisticated reminders.