HouseWorks, Uber Team Up with Digital Pharmacies to Solve One of Health Care’s ‘Most Frustrating’ Problems

One of the chief concerns for seniors that home care providers have helped tackle over the years has been medication management. That concept is now being taken to the next level by a handful of companies operating in the home-based care arena.

HouseWorks, a large Boston-based provider of private-pay home care, has partnered with the digital pharmacy Capsule to offer free same-day delivery pharmacy benefits to HouseWorks’ clients.

Meanwhile, Uber Health (NYSE: UBER) recently announced a new partnership with on-demand prescription platform NimbleRX. The partnership launched in Seattle and Dallas, and the two companies are prepared to expand the initiative to more cities in the coming months.

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Those two partnerships are just a couple of recent examples of a growing, more advanced way to look at medication management, particularly for an increased population of homebound and chronically ill seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March, the COVID-19 virus has made a long-time problem for the senior community much worse.

“We’ve always felt that one of the most frustrating aspects of health care is the ordering and the waiting for prescriptions to be delivered,” HouseWorks CEO Andrea Cohen told Home Health Care News. “Then they recall the wrong prescription, or a lot of times our clients might forget to refill a prescription. Organizing the prescription refills and pick-up can just be really inconvenient and, in the end, can totally affect what happens in the home.”

Capsule is a digital pharmacy that allows customers to manage their medication orders and drop-offs through their platform, which can also be facilitated on its app. HouseWorks is offering Capsule’s services for free to its clients.

Cohen originally heard about the program and thought it would be perfect for her daughter. As a home care CEO, she shortly thereafter applied the same logic to her clients.

“Not only will they be able to access 24/7 online delivery, but also once it arrives in the home, we can help them organize and coordinate the medicine,” Cohen said. “That takes a lot of the concern out of the equation. We are always looking for tactical ways that we can continue to enhance what we do in the home, and Capsule is just another way for us to do that.”

HouseWorks plans to roll out the partnership in the greater Boston area, then move to its other locations in Philadelphia and New Hampshire later on. The company plans to hire a clinician to oversee medication management in each client’s home as well.

The delivery of prescriptions will be synced to that clinician’s schedule to make sure drop-offs occur on their visit days so that the client receives the correct medicine, at the correct time, on the correct day.

While medication management is a core focus for many home-based care providers, emerging research continues to underscore just how important that service actually is.

Each year, ADEs account for nearly 700,000 emergency department visits and 100,000 hospitalizations, according to one article published by Patient Safety Network. Additionally, an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 people die annually as a result of a medication error.

Overall, close to 6,800 prescription medications and countless over-the-counter drugs are available in the United States.

Uber and NimbleRX

Uber Health’s partnership with NimbleRX mirrors the HouseWorks-Capsule relationship in many ways.

NimbleRX, a pharmacy that offers same-day delivery of prescription medications, has a similar business model to Capsule. On its end, the company operates in 34 states and has over 700 pharmacy partnerships.

“Having to pick up prescriptions in-person at your local pharmacy can be a barrier to care,” a NimbleRX spokesperson told HHCN. “As a result, we’ve seen consumer habits change significantly during the pandemic, as consumers have looked for safe and reliable prescription delivery. This is especially true for seniors and at-risk populations, and we’ve seen demand grow among our older customers.”

Uber Health, who long ago entered the home-based care space via transportation partnerships, has similar aspirations of doing what’s best for complex patients.

Both Uber and fellow rideshare giant Lyft continue to look for creative ways to enter the health care industry in general, whether that’s through partnerships with larger health systems or Medicare Advantage plans.

“We’re not just moving people,” Dan Trigub, the head of Uber Health, told Forbes in August. “We can get prescriptions into their home. We are integrating with a best-in-class pharmacy solution that pharmacies have access to and giving them the opportunity to provide delivery for their prescriptions.”

The partnership is set to expand over the rest of 2020 as seniors stay — for the most part — isolated in their homes.

“Uber Health has worked closely with health care partners in the U.S. to identify challenges within the non-emergency medical transportation experience … and to improve patient outcomes,” an Uber spokesperson told HHCN. “Prescription delivery has emerged as a problem Uber Health and NimbleRx are uniquely positioned to help solve for a variety of patients.”

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