Amid the cacophony of thousands of iPhone healthcare apps, Dan Bernstein thinks his has what it takes to break through the noise.
Bernstein’s app, Personal Caregiver, is targeted towards both health providers and consumers. The app reminds patients to take their medications, when to get refills and warns them of adverse drug interactions. For health providers, it helps them do the same for multiple patients.
The idea behind the app is simple: “Patients don’t comply with their physicians’ instructions,” said Bernstein, a former video game producer whose app development company is called iMedic8 Manager LLC.
For example, half of patients with chronic illnesses like heart disease or asthma skip doses or otherwise mess up their medication, according to a 2007 report from the nonprofit National Council on Patient Information and Education. Poor medication adherence can cost an extra $2,000 a year for each patient in extra doctor visits alone, according to the report.
Bernstein believes his Personal Caregiver app, which went live in Apple’s app store in January, can help improve patients’ health and ultimately save them money. The company has garnered $160,000 in investment funding so far and is looking for another $1 million for its Series A round. Bernstein says the company would use the funding to increase staffing and further develop iMedic8’s business and technology.
For the consumer market, Bernstein’s strategy is to give the app away for free and then hook users into buying a more robust version that provides more detailed medication information and allows them to set up additional profiles to track family members’ medication regimens. The paid consumer version costs $4.99, while the iteration aimed at providers goes for $3.99. The professional version allows providers to manage medications for up to 16 patient profiles, but providers are charged a per-year fee for each profile. So far, the app has posted an 8 percent rate in converting free downloads to sales, Bernstein said.
“I think the best strategy is to make an app free first, and then if your app adds value and delivers quality, you’ll gain a strong following quickly,” Husain said. “Once you gain this following and get positive reviews, it will be significantly easier to get others to actually buy the app.”
Additionally, the company hopes to open a revenue stream by striking private-label deals with major pharmacy chains such as Walgreen’s and CVS. The chains would pay iMedic8 to place their brands on the app and promote it to their customers. Bernstein said the company is in the early stages of such discussions.
Signing private-label deals is one way to make Bernstein’s app stand out from the crowd, likely the company’s biggest challenge in a market in which Husain labels the competition as “cut-throat.” Bernstein also plans to promote it via social networks, such as diabetes or cancer groups. He acknowledged that “there’s no shortage of apps trying to solve the adherence problem.”
Aside from marketing, the other key to success in the app market is ease of use. If an app is clunky coming out of the gate, users — and healthcare providers, in particular — will never give it a second chance, Husain said.
“For medical apps, there are two critical things to remember: Navigation and functionality,” Husain said. “Healthcare providers don’t have time to spare when using an app at the point of care. Content needs to be available easily and quickly.”