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PharmAssistant opens the future of medication adherence

Sofia Simões de Almeida
Co­founder, PharmAssistant
I woke up with a text message from one of my best friends: “I’m at the hospital. The doctors say I have a deep vein thrombosis”.
This was one and a half years ago; my friend was 25 years old. Everything changed for her on that day. She became a young chronic disease patient, struggling to take the right pills everyday, struggling to find a pharmacy with the medication she needed, struggling to fit this new condition into her active and busy lifestyle.
My friend is not alone. In fact, one in every two US adults have at least one chronic condition and, half of them, don’t take their medication as prescribed. Every time someone forgets to take his or her pills, everyone loses:
- patients, like my friend, are not successfully controlling their condition
- pharma companies lose 36% in potential sales, because they fail to prove the efficacy of their medication
- pharmacies lose clients
- drug efficacy studies and clinical trials fail to meet their purpose
The key to improving medication adherence is in improving technology

The good news is that we can do something about it using technology. That’s why PharmAssistant has created a smart pillbox. The box is connected to an “invisible” app so that the patient just has to do what he or she already does: open a box and take a pill.

PharmAssistant has created the smart, connected pillbox

Technology does everything else: reminds, tracks, monitors, manages, alerts for refills and shares the info with his or her physician and family, if authorized by the patient. It’s already known, that innovation in health it’s, lots of times, fostered by patient’s friends and relatives ­like me and every PharmAssistant’s team member. But what is really interesting to know is that 40% of adults with one chronic condition track their health, as well as 62% adults with two chronic conditions, according to Pew Foundation on Wired.
This is more than going digital or mobile, it's about changing lives

The PharmAssistant pillbox sends medication reminders
to your smartphone



The opportunity is here: this is the time to change healthcare. This is more than going digital or mobile, it’s about changing lives. Every year, 125 thousand people die, just in the USA, dueto not taking their medication as prescribed. We want to trim down this numbers. In what regards to PharmAssistant, my bestfriend won’t be a number in this statistics.


To know how we are going to do this, subscribe now our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.


A long walk to a patient voice in health IT - an interview with Regina Holliday

Jason Berek-Lewis
Founder @ Healthy Startups



Last August at the HIC 2014 conference I had the amazing opportunity to meet with a number of my health heroes. I was so excited to meet people like Bertalan Mesko MD PhD, ePatient Dave, Jack Andraka that I never thought about new inspiring heroes that I might meet.

While spending time with ePatient Dave I was introduced to Regina Holliday who is the most intriguing and engaging health advocate that I have met thus far.


Jason, Regina, ePatient Dave at HIC 2014

At the link above you will find Regina’s blog where she chronicles her journey through art, medicine, social media, pop culture and her work as a patient voice in health IT.

I am disappointed in myself that it has taken me so long to reach out again to Regina and to have her share her input, voice and empowering story here on Healthy Startups… But, here it is!



Jason: Regina, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. For readers who have not come across you at a conference/ event or via your blog and social media presence, who are you and what do you do?

Regina: I am a patient rights activist and artist. I present keynote speeches from the caregiver and patient perspective and paint the content of conferences as well. I also founded a patient rights movement called The Walking Gallery of Healthcare.

Jason: Can you share some the experiences that led you to start your journey as an ePatient?

Regina: After going to the doctor for three months with no diagnosis, my husband Fred Holliday was hospitalized for tests in March of 2009. He was diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer. We were unable to access his medical record while (he was) hospitalized. Fred was continuously hospitalized in 5 facilities for 11 weeks. On the 12th week he came home and died within 6 days. I began painting to help other patients and families in similar situations.

Jason: Regina, we had the chance to talk about your experiences in person at HIC14, but again I am so sorry for your loss. While there were so many intriguing and inspiring speakers at HIC14, your keynote really hit me in the guts - it was emotionally raw, powerful, engrossing. I felt an almost instant connection with your story. I know you have been active as a speaker for a number of years, but do you/ did you find it difficult to share your story in such a public way?

Regina: Some people call that keeping it real. I try to take people to that deep place within us that is filled with sorrow and regret. I help people relive those times; reframe those moments to come out the other side stronger and inspired to change things.

Jason: You are a blogger and active on social media. What are your thoughts on using these very public platforms to share your story?

Regina: I use truth as a shield. I am very open in social media and am one of those people who believe in the power of open data. I do not divide myself into a professional façade and a personal self: it is all there for you to see.

Jason: Your work on using public platforms to share stories extends well beyond the online space. What is the Walking Gallery and how did it start?

Regina: The Walking Gallery consists of medical providers, patients and advocates who wear patient story paintings on the backs of business suits. The movement began with the art jacket I painted for Jen McCabe in 2009 and coalesced into its current form in 2011 at a gathering of 56 members at The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC.

This "walking wall" of now 300+ individuals who wear personal patient narrative paintings on their backs is changing minds and opening hearts. They are attending medical conferences where often there isn’t a patient speaker on the dais or in the audience. They are providing a patient voice, and by doing so, are changing the conversation.  

Jason: What are some of the reactions/ what is some of the feedback you have received from people who have seen your Walking Gallery art?

Regina: Most people want to know what is going on. Some want to join us. Some want to buy a jacket and are shocked when they find that you can’t do that. This is a movement, a co-mission, not a commission, it is free to join if the walker is prepared to wear their story and tell their tale to help others.

Jason: Can you share some of the stories that have inspired your work with the Walking Gallery?

Regina: Well, I do that on my blog and I also wrote a book on the subject

Jason: You have also published a book called The Walking Wall: 73 Cents to the Walking Gallery. What is the book about?

Regina: That is the book! The Walking Wall starts off with the story of my largest mural and then recounts 40 stories of walking members of The Walking Gallery. It is published in Australia by The Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA).

Jason:  Can you please share some advice/ thoughts that may help others who are considering using online tools to share their healthcare story?

Regina: Social media rocks! I (also) like Blogger: it is easy to use. If you are on a mission, you must use Twitter. Facebook is great for some story spread and much emotional support.

Jason: Looking forward where do you see social media and technology heading in the epatient/ patient empowerment space?

Regina: I see them combining in the next 5 years.

Jason: I truly appreciate your time in answering these questions and the time that you gave me at HIC14. Thank you.


Ever dreamed of juggling hand grenades?


Jason Berek-Lewis
Founder @ Healthy Startups




If you ever woke up one morning and said to yourself:


My number one ambition in life is to juggle live hand grenades


then I recommend that you do everything you can to get a job in/ start your own startup.

When you juggle hand grenades for a living you form some pretty interesting views on life, love, career:

  • you learn to live with, and love, fear
  • you come to detest certainty
  • you love every minute of your wild ride, knowing that you don't get to decide when you get off

As a kid, I never dreamed of running away to the circus, of being a juggler or becoming a crazy brave adventurer, but in many ways these are the realities of working in/ with startups.

I may not have dreamed of it, but when I watched this video, I instantly yearned to juggle live hand grenades.

My family doesn't understand it. My friends don't get it. No one close to me wants to live with the implications of it...

But, I juggle live hand grenades for a living.

What do you do?


Sun rises on device that helps you get enough light

Richard Schwartz, M.D.
Co-founder, SunSprite 




You don’t hear a psychiatrist asking how much light you get… It affects so much of our physiology, psychology, and mood. But we take it for granted.

Satchin Panda in The Economist


We are psychiatrists who ask about light. We have asked our patients about light ever since the mid-1980s, when researchers at the NIMH first identified seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and showed that bright light was an effective treatment of winter depression. (In those days, we had to send patients to a hardware store to buy the parts to build their own therapeutic light box.)

 We continued to ask about light as it was shown to be effective in the treatment of non-seasonal depression, and to benefit a wide range of conditions including insomnia, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. And even to improve vitality, to lower distress, and to improve quality of life in people who are completely healthy but light-deprived.

Empowering people to ask themselves - am I getting the right amount of light?

We developed SunSprite to empower people to ask themselves about light – and to find out whether they are getting the right amount of light, at the right intensity, at the right time of day. And transform what they learn into actions that improve their mood, focus, energy and sleep.


Light sets your rhythm 


Light sets the rhythms of our bodies and our minds. It is the primary timekeeper that keeps our biological processes synchronized with the 24-hour cycle of our day and with each other. Light as a biological timekeeper works through the eyes. (By contrast, the synthesis of vitamin D is a response to ultraviolet radiation reaching the skin.) When visible light enters the eyes, it stimulates specialized receptor cells in the retina that connect to our “master pacemaker” – the paired suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus. From there, the effects spread – much more widely than we once thought, controlling not only our sleep-wake cycle by regulating secretion and suppression of the hormone melatonin, but the ebbs and flows of biological processes throughout the body.

 It takes bright light to have this process working right, particularly when it comes to treating or preventing depression. It’s the cycle of sunlight and darkness that our ancestors could not escape, but that modern life has replaced with low levels of artificial light during our days and during much of our nights. One solution is a therapeutic light box, specially designed to be bright enough to treat depression (since even the brightest of ordinary indoor lighting falls far short). But to use a lightbox, you have to not only sit still, but also sit very close to the box. Too many people told us it was just not possible.


Get the light you need, with the freedom to move


So we developed SunSprite to let people get the light they need with the freedom to move – to use a light box, to take a walk outside, to sit in a sunny window – while still tracking the proper “dose.”

 We know that sunlight can be a very mixed blessing (for example in Australia, with high levels of UV and skin cancer); it’s important to know that the benefits of bright light to the brain come from light entering our eyes. Protective clothing and sunscreen are just fine and do not impede the therapeutic effects of bright light. It’s also important to know that, for most people, the best time to get bright light is in the early morning – when UV levels in sunlight are low (UV intensity is extremely sensitive to the angle of the sun). SunSprite can let you know when you’ve had the dose you want and put on your sunglasses or go inside.

So those are some of the reasons we wanted to create a light tracker. And we were lucky enough to know some brilliant engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs to make our idea a reality.

We’re one step closer to a brighter, healthier world.





Smart patch thermometer gives tech smart parents peace of mind

Aaron Goldstein
CEO, Fever Smart 

Fever Smart is a smart patch thermometer that allows parents to monitor their children’s temperature using their iPhone.


The problem with 'traditional' thermometers - they're out dated


The Fever Smart team realized that conventional thermometers weren’t good fits for today’s tech-savvy young parents; with outdated hardware and one-time readings, basic thermometers can’t give parents information when they need it most.

That's why our team developed Fever Smart, a device that tracks kids’ temperature constantly and sends data to the cloud so that parents can access the information from anywhere in the world.



Helping parents with health information overload


With mHealth’s rise in popularity, our team knew that there was an information overflow when it came to health data. Says COO Becca Goldstein, “We first asked ourselves, ‘How do you really hone in on what’s most important?’ Our goal was to enable parents to track their children’s health in a simple way.


Temperature is one of the most basic indicators of health, so we thought it would be the best metric to provide parents.


There are a number of key use cases for Fever Smart’s technology. When parents think their children may be getting sick—say, during flu season—they can put a Fever Smart onto their kids when they tuck them into bed. If, in the middle of the night, a child’s temperature starts to rise, parents will receive alerts to their smart phone so that they can take immediate preventative action. The product is also perfect for children with chronic illnesses or who have just undergone surgery and need to constantly monitor their temperature.


Integrated with Apple's HealthKit

Fever Smart is the first children’s product to have full integration with Apple’s new Healthkit platform. The team believes that Healthkit is going to be the cornerstone of home healthcare in the future, and wanted to ensure that Fever Smart would have compatibility starting on day one.


Fever Smart launched their Indiegogo campaign and has already raised 134% of their $40,000 goal.

Click here for press kit (to get photos).