An Akron-based startup is hoping to be a beneficiary of the increased investor attention that mobile health app developers have been receiving in the wake of a recent high-profile initial public offering.
If medical app developer Epocrates’ $86 million IPO represents a rising tide for all mobile health companies, northeast Ohio’s iRx Reminder LLC may soon find its boat being lifted.
The Akron company is taking a different tack than most mhealth developers, however, aiming its app — at least initially — at researchers instead of consumers.
iRx Reminder, which formed in 2009, has developed an app that’s a research tool used to conduct medication or behavioral intervention studies with chronic disease patients, said CEO Anthony Sterns. Despite the company’s name, Sterns said iRx Reminder’s technology does more than just remind patients to take their medications.
The app can be used to deliver educational materials aimed at helping patients learn how to better self-manage their diseases, and also used to gather feedback from patients about their moods or recent exercise habits, for example, which would help researchers understand when a patient is depressed and possibly headed for noncompliance with medication instructions.
Researchers are able to easily customize the app to include whatever instructions, survey questions or educational materials they’d like to get in their patients’ hands, Sterns said.
“The key innovation is that I as a researcher have an app on an iPhone or Android capable of doing whatever I envision in helping patients with health compliance,” he said.
iRx Reminder garnered some attention recently when it won a business plan competition (and $25,000) from entrepreneurship group TiE Ohio. The company will move on to the next round and compete with companies from across the globe in Toronto next week for a $150,000 prize.
“The space iRx Reminder is in is growing fast,” said Reka Barabas, executive director of TiE Ohio. “The company has already reached a few early milestones and signed up its first few customers.”
iRx Reminder has gained some big-name clients like Cleveland’s University Hospitals, Kent State University and Akron’s Summa Health System.
The Summa project involved using iRx Reminder’s technology to follow about 35 stroke patients and help them better manage their medications and recognize stroke symptoms, said Dr. Kyle Allen, Summa’s chief of geriatric medicine.
Through “repetitive teaching” with the educational portion of iRx Reminder’s offering, patients came to be more in control of their own care, he said.
“You’re empowering the subject to self-manage their illness,” he said. “The patient is more in the driver’s seat and they’re taking responsibility for their care.”
So far, insiders have invested about $650,000 in the company, and Sterns said iRx Reminder is looking for an angel investment of about $1.5 million. The company would use the investment to seek federal regulatory approval of its app and then expand into its next target market: selling to doctors.