Medication non-adherence costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $500 billion each year and can lead to unnecessary hospitalizations. One company is leveraging technology to change that.
Baltimore, Maryland-based Scene Health, formerly known as emocha, is a mobile app that serves Medicaid and Medicare plans, as well as pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations. The app aims to help patients improve medication adherence. It does this by connecting users with a team of pharmacists, nurses and health coaches and uses daily asynchronous video check-ins to prompt patients take their medications properly. Scene Health is working to grow its reach after announcing Wednesday that it secured $17.7 million in Series B funding.
The funding round was led by ABS Capital Partners and includes participation from Claritas Health Ventures, PTX Capital, Kapor Capital and Healthworx, the investment arm of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. Since Scene Health was founded in 2014, it has raised more than $25 million, including this latest round.
With the financing, Scene Health plans to invest in more Medicaid and Medicare health plan contracts, as well as collect more data on its platform and medication adherence, said Sebastian Seiguer, co-founder and CEO of Scene Health.
“A lot of this [funding] is to make sure people know that we’re there and invest in our partnerships,” Seiguer said in an interview. “Every single partnership we have with a Medicaid health plan or a Medicare health plan is an evolutionary experience. The product is evolving, so we have a lot to learn and we want to invest in these relationships.”
Scene Health’s app uses a process called directly observed therapy, in which a healthcare professional watches patients take their medication. However, Scene does this through asynchronous videos rather than in-person at a clinical setting. Patients record a video of themselves taking their medications and describe how they’re feeling. The care team then responds back with a video and explains any medication errors. In addition to the videos, patients can also stay in touch with their care team through text on the app. The company’s solution serves patients for a series of chronic and infectious conditions, including diabetes, asthma and tuberculosis.
The news follows a recent endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of directly observed therapy via video for tuberculosis treatment. The organization found that directly observed therapy through video is equal to in-person when used for tuberculosis.
Ultimately, Scene Health hopes to make directly observed therapy as mainstream in the outpatient setting as it is in the inpatient setting, Seiguer said.
“The inpatient standard of care for medication adherence is very, very clear,” he said. “Every single dose of medication — no exceptions — all patients, all conditions is done under directly observed therapy in the clinical setting. Outpatient it’s considered unaffordable and burdensome. … Our mission as a company is to change the standard of care for all outpatient medications.”
Other digital companies battling medication non-adherence include Wellth and Medisafe.