In conversation with Zoe Barry
As founder and CEO of ZappRx, a consumer engagement company focused on improving the electronic prescription process, Zoe Barry began her career as an analyst at hedge fund, Dawson Capital, in New York, where her role was to generate high return equity opportunities by identifying market inefficiencies. Applying the same principles to healthcare, Ms. Barry recognized that excluding the patient from the e-prescribing process created a massive administrative burden for providers and pharmacies. Ms. Barry founded ZappRx with a mission to take the pain out of managing medications by promoting a patient-centric approach to care coordination. In this interview with BioTuesdays.com, Ms. Barry discusses the existing state of the e-prescribing market and the potential for a mobile platform to revolutionize the way patients, providers and pharmacists connect.
Let’s begin with a brief history of ZappRx.
We launched ZappRx in May 2012 with friends and family backing—from physicist James Glimm; Michael Silverman, co-founder of the Fancy; and Dr. David Silverman, among others. The company has spent the past year developing the technology and plans to launch several beta tests in the coming months in medical practices and pharmacies across the U.S.
What is the idea behind ZappRx?
If you take a step back, what goes on in prescribing, either paper scripts or e-scripts, is like a table with two legs. In paper prescribing, the doctor and patient touch the script, and the pharmacist has no idea that a script is coming in the door. As e-prescribing currently stands, the doctor and pharmacist are involved, and the patient doesn’t touch the script until he or she gets to the pharmacy and finds out how much the medication is going to cost. ZappRx has built a care coordination platform that connects all the parties in the process, creating a four-legged table to support e-prescribing.
Can you explain the platform?
Essentially, we have taken the concept of a paper script and digitized it as a mobile tool to facilitate the integration and sharing of electronic medical records. The ZappRx platform improves the way doctors, patients and pharmacists interact, with a simple smartphone app for managing prescription payments and medical information.
For the first time, doctors will be able to e-prescribe to their patients, patients will be able to order and pay for prescriptions electronically, and pharmacists will be able to pre-process insurance information and communicate digitally with the prescriber. Medication reconciliation, adherence verification, symptom tracking, refill requests, bill payments, and messaging are all done through the mobile platform.
Can you discuss the issue of privacy?
We have taken considerable measures to comply with all HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and CMS MU-2 (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services meaningful use stage 2) requirements for electronic patient-provider communication. Thus, while complete transparency allows for informational efficiency, the company also guards what patients value most: their privacy. Our commitment to privacy is unique among the existing retail pharmacy mobile apps that don’t comply with these standards and thus are unable to comprehensively fulfill the need for secure information sharing.
Last week, you raised your initial funding. What will you be able to do now?
As the sole founder, it was essential for me to de-risk my company by raising seed capital from meaningful investors – true experts in the space with a track record in healthcare IT. This initial tranche of $1-million in seed funding enables ZappRx to hire a core team, pilot our product with select providers and pharmacists as well as refine the technology to maximize our go-to-market approach. In addition, by raising funds from blue chip investors such as Atlas and LSAN, we succeeded in attracting top tier advisors to the company. The overall value from the seed round – team, technology, investors and advisors – greatly exceeds the monetary amount of $1-million.
Who benefits the most from ZappRx?
Everybody benefits. Pharmacies benefit by having two-way electronic communication with medical providers. Right now, it’s one-way. Doctors can route a script to a pharmacy, but the pharmacist has no way to electronically route back to the provider. Any communication now has to be faxed from the pharmacy to the provider, which takes time and creates delays for the pharmacy and patient. This will benefit doctors by a reducing their administrative burden. Our technology will modernize the checkout process, allowing doctors to receive live-time confirmation of medication pickup and thus more visibility into a patient’s medication compliance. They’ll also be able to more easily coordinate care with other doctors treating the same patient. The benefit for patients is a single medication reconciliation platform that modernizes the checkout process and enables them to be engaged with their health care.
What’s the next step in the testing the platform?
We have been approached by pharmacy benefit managers that own their own pharmacies and are interested in what we’re doing because we can combine prescribing with mobile payments. We are in discussions for a study that would target one physician and one disease indication to start with and then spread out to multiple locations across the country. We are in the process of building the technology for a six-month study and hope to initiate it at the start of 2014.
What’s the home run for ZappRx?
It would be unfathomable to continue prescribing medications the way it is done today when the technology exists for a true coordination of e-prescribing and payments. That’s where the home run is. And that’s how we differentiate ourselves – by combining prescribing with the payment process and very specifically engaging the patient. What we’re doing is equivalent to Amazon one-click for prescription ordering.
What are your long-term goals?
We do not plan to go doctor’s office to doctor’s office in a grass roots campaign. We’re starting small to break into the market with the New York pilot to test the technology. Then we plan to scale up and focus on enterprise relationships.