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Why are medicines still killing us?

Being human involves acknowledging our fallibility – we make mistakes.

Yet, when the same kind of mistakes occur regularly, chalking them up to just unpreventable errors without understanding the cause, aligns nicely to Einstein’s purported definition of insanity. And that’s what we are doing when it comes to the current process of medications and prescriptions.​

One of the major responsibilities patients have as it pertains to their health, is to take medications. Meds are one of the major reasons we are living longer than ever before, but also, unfortunately, the cause of 1/7 hospital admissions, and 125,000 deaths each year in the US alone.​

Why is it that mistakes continue to plague our prescription landscape, and what are we doing about it?

If we take a deeper dive, it is good to actually understand – what is a prescription in the first place?

Even though pharmacy has evolved since its known inception in Sumerian times (~2000 BCE), prescriptions have only been an instruction from a healer to a potion maker on the ingredients that are required to compound or create a bespoke treatment for a particular patient. In fact the current abbreviation of ‘℞’ is a symbol meaning “recipe”.​

So is essence prescriptions are a form of “permission slip” – a written authorization enabling us to procure something. Yet in its current form, it has no other value – it contains no history, no pricing, no education or information, no substitution information, no acknowledgement of the bespoke needs of an individual, nothing on someone’s genomics, cultural heritage or BMI, nothing to encourage a patient to take their medicines appropriately, and nothing that makes the patient feel in control – in fact for the most part, this prescription bypasses the patient, and in the USA is sent directly to the pharmacy.​​

Today, we ask patients to take on more responsibility for their health, for longer than ever before. An explosion of chronic diseases, an aging population, reduced access to care (due to cost and pressure), and a desire by consumers to be more in control, means patients are on their own, more susceptible to errors when it comes to their medications (the average US citizen is taking 3+ medicines between the ages of 40-65, and 20% of them are taking more than five meds each day). And yet, we haven’t built a system to equip patients to take on this responsibility successfully to prevent these well described mistakes.​

We at ScalaMed are rethinking this problem and creating prescriptions of the future, which will reliably ensure prescriptions are completely appropriate for every patient. Automatically.​

The same way Netflix knows exactly what we want to watch next, and Amazon predicts when we are running low on deodorant, prescription management systems will be patient centered, smart and automatic. Empowering patients and preventing the mistakes that plague our system today.​

Here’s to a less insane world when it comes to medications.​

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