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Beep: Do You Read Me? It's Time to Take Your Medicine

MedPrompt Inc. is working with pharmacists to remind patients to take their medications. The Houston-based firm is forming alliances with drugstore chains to roll out its MedPrompt Medical Pager,an alphanumeric paging service that sends an electronic medication reminder to patients when it is about time for them to take their medication. Ronald Moran, CEO, MedPrompt, cited figures from the National Pharmaceutical Council estimating that prescription medication noncompliance costs $100 billion every year, and it is blamed for the deaths of more than 125,000 Americans annually.

Patients subscribe to MedPrompt through a participating pharmacy. Once MedPrompt has received a subscriber's prescription information from the pharmacist, the information is custom programmed into the MedPrompt system. By means of a pager, the patient is alerted by a beeping or a vibration. The message that follows includes the name of the medication, the dosage, and any special instructions.

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According to Moran, the company already has an agreement with Albertson's in New Mexico and Arizona. MedPrompt will also be part of the Atlanta rollout of Eckerd Stores of the Future, and it is involved in negotiations to bring on other high-service chains, whose pharmacies will sell the MedPrompt service to patients.

There is a one-time initial activation charge of $24.95. Then, for $32.95 a month, patients receive up to 200 messages. Pharmacies receive 10% of the monthly fee, plus a one-time fee of $10 for each patient they enroll.

Moran said that in addition to revenue sharing, as pharmacists sell the service, they are likely to benefit from sales elsewhere in the store. "People in compliance will take 30 pills in 30 days. This keeps the client base alive and increases store traffic as patients come in to fill their Rxs on a regular basis." To drive business to participating pharmacies, MedPrompt is calling on discharge planners in local hospitals, travel agencies, retirement communities, and senior centers to display its counter cards, which indicate where the service is available.

MedPrompt's software was tested for more than two years in Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, and Texas, Moran said. He maintains that his firm can deliver virtually 100% accuracy and cover between 85% and 90% of the United States.

An ad campaign aimed at adults aged 45 and older is currently being tested in Nashville. Two 60-second radio spots name the pharmacy where the pager is available. A direct-mail campaign targeting physician groups and hospitals is also planned, as are print ads and public relations efforts.

MedPrompt is selling local franchises to qualified businesses to service participating pharmacies. Franchises are currently operating in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. "The franchises have an equity position in MedPrompt and in servicing the account," Moran explained.


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