Illuminate Health offering pharmacist-led virtual medication management

Varun Goyal, Co-founder and CEO

Closely-held Illuminate Health is leveraging a technology-enabled continuous medication management platform to help patients optimize medications at home to improve treatment adherence and reduce hospitalizations. 

“At the end of the day, our Med Guide telehealth platform aims to simplify medication management for patients and provide easy access to pharmacists,” Varun Goyal, co-founder and CEO of Illuminate, says in an interview with BioTuesdays.

“What got us started on this journey was a couple of personal cases of medication error,” Mr. Goyal recalls. “While the market is filled with reminder apps, we couldn’t find anything with clinical intelligence and automation that helps optimize treatment and prevent an adverse drug event.”

Illuminate’s Med Guide health assistant app is a “patient-centric platform” that capitalizes on the experience and knowledge of a pharmacist and facilitates a pharmacist-patient collaboration that includes comprehensive and targeted medication reviews, clinical decision support to ensure medications are safe, and an ongoing pharmacist-patient collaboration through remote monitoring, chat messaging and early intervention.

Mr. Goyal explains that a comprehensive medication review includes a video consult so a pharmacist can view all the medications in a patient’s home for appropriateness and safety; medication education; a simplified medication schedule; and document sharing with physicians.

A targeted medication review allows a pharmacist to assess the use of medications in the home for adherence information to avoid potential problems or complications of any new medications. According to Mr. Goyal, pharmacists are the third most trusted professional group, but are an under-utilized healthcare resource. 

“Our app-mediated virtual medication management service leads to stronger relationships between pharmacists and patients,” Mr. Goyal contends.

Existing platforms manage medications using a coach or physician, and rely on one-off interventions that are reactive to patient needs. Illuminate Health differentiates Med Guide by its pharmacist-led focus, ongoing monitoring and continuous support through care continuum, a patient-centric platform and proactively flagging prescription issues using a minimally disruptive medicine approach to truly simplify medication administration at home.

Mr. Goyal contends that 50% of chronic disease patients do not take medications as prescribed and only 12% of U.S. adults have proficient health literacy.

“Treatment adherence requires proper guidance and engagement. Our value to patients is peace of mind and comfort knowing that their medications are safe, with easy access to a pharmacist to enable greater care and improved outcomes,” Mr. Goyal points out.

“Our value to pharmacists, among other things, is improved productivity through automated workflows of everyday tasks and up-to-date information of patient symptoms and health status, medication and care plan adherence, all shown in one place,” he adds.

The company is currently targeting healthcare insurance plans and managed care organizations where “we offer to manage a patient population with co-morbidities and chronic diseases that require taking six-to-10 medications a day,” Mr. Goyal says. “Our modeling suggests we can reduce downstream medical costs by preventing ER visits, hospitalizations, and better treatment plan adherence.”

Illuminate Health also has the potential to reduce healthcare costs for self-funded employers and improve employee productivity with its pharmacist-led medication management service.

Mr. Goyal points out that there are 2.7 million U.S. hospitalizations a year due to patient non-adherence and adverse drug events, with more than 275,000 deaths due to non-optimized medication therapies, costing the U.S. healthcare system $528-billion. 

In addition to a personalized and easy-to-follow daily medication routine for the patient, the company’s Med Guide also offers clinical skills that guide people to live healthy lives based on their condition. “From a health management perspective, our app gives patients a toolbox that focuses on family care coordination, wellness and education, side effects, and virtual support groups to drive engagement between patients.”

For example, a patient with diabetes would be advised about the benefits of examining their feet, exercise and healthy eating, while a patient with chronic kidney disease would be notified about drinking water and regular blood tests. And, a patient with substance use disorder would be advised to attend AA meetings, spiritual readings and logging their mood, among other things. 

Apart from comprehensive medication management, Illuminate Health is targeting substance use disorder patients as one of its platform’s first disease state. Acting as a recovery coach, the program aids in medication management, a 12-step recovery routine, as well as self-tracking, mindfulness, peer recovery and information about support groups.

The platform was vetted in a pilot study with substance use disorder patients at Indiana University Health, the largest healthcare system in the state, with 16 hospitals in its network. Working with 125 patients for more than 1½ years, the study found strong suggestive evidence of reduced anxiety and increased medication adherence, with 86% of patients reporting that the app addressed their recovery needs.

In September 2020, Mednovate Connect of Baltimore selected Illuminate Health’s Med Guide to power its telepharmacy services and jointly market Med Guide to Medicaid managed care organizations.  Recently, an employee health benefits player also selected illuminate health’s virtual platform to enable pharmacy care management services for employer customers.

Illuminate Health’s core IP covers personalized medication schedules and medication safety checks, with a patent pending for a system and method of safe and accurate self-administration of medications.

“Our goal is to shed light on better health, as our name, Illuminate, implies, whether it be how and when people take their medication, education for patients on expected side effects, or providing the means to easily connect to their support network. And we look forward to partnering with health plans, pharmacies and even pharmaceutical companies to help patients improve long term outcomes,” Mr. Goyal says.

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