Half of all medications prescribed in the US are not taken as directed—and in some cases, the consequences can be life or death. Prescription non-adherence, as it’s referred to, results in an estimated 125,000 deaths each year. But biochemist Tamar Sapir is aiming to knock down that number with a simple solution: a smart label that helps patients and their physicians stay on top of their medications.
“Doctors have no idea what happens with the medications they’ve prescribed once the patient leaves the clinic, or even if they are picked up,” Sapir, founder and CEO of Boca Raton-based Synchronyx, tells Quartz. In fact, 20% to 30% of prescriptions are never filled. “Patients often have so many life challenges that can make it difficult for them to manage a chronic condition,” she adds.
Synchronyx’s labels, called Tappt Health, can be applied at the pharmacy, handed out by the physician, or mailed to the patient. Patients tap their smartphone against the label whenever they take a pill, and a signal is sent to the clinic. If the system detects that a patient has missed a pill, it nudges them with a text reminder. It’s astonishingly effective: Synchronyx’s studies find that 97% of patients who receive the labels comply.
Tappt goes well beyond reminders, however. Patients can use the label to transmit self-reports about side effects or how they’re feeling, giving doctors real-time feedback so that they can quickly identify and intervene if a problem arises. The labels can also sync to health apps and wearables.
They’re also considered a remote therapeutic technology, an emerging category that helps doctors remotely monitor their patients. Sapir notes that the telehealth boom of the pandemic, along with recently approved reimbursements by Medicare and Medicaid, has opened up more demand for these devices, and more touchpoints between doctors and their patients. “We’re excited about the potential for our labels to expand personalized care,” she says.
This story is part of Quartz’s Innovators List 2023, a series that spotlights the people deploying bold technologies and reimagining the way we do business for good across the globe. Find the full list here.