Business Idea: Provide patients access to prescription medications instantly after they’re prescribed by a doctor in a hospital emergency room or at an urgent care center. The prescriptions are dispensed via a vending machine that’s present in the facility.
Pitch: There are many rural areas without 24-hour pharmacies. This makes it difficult for people who visit an emergency room or an urgent care center late at night or on a weekend to quickly fill their prescriptions. Typically, of course, we want to have immediate access to medications that a doctor has told us will make us feel better! In some cases, doctors will give patients a starter quantity of a medication, if they know the patient will not be able to get to a pharmacy soon. But there are two problems with this solution. First, it’s costly for doctors and hospitals. Second, a likely scenario is that the patient will take the starter medications, start feeling better, and never have the prescription filled. This leaves patients who started out with bronchitis, for example, susceptible to pneumonia if they don’t take their full regiment of medication and their condition takes a turn for the worse.
InstyMeds provides a solution to these problems. The company has developed a vending machine for prescription drugs, to be located in hospitals and urgent care centers. Here’s how it works. If you’ve just received a prescription from a doctor at an emergency room or an urgent care center that has an InstyMeds machine, your prescription will be accompanied by an InstyMeds private code. You approach the InstyMeds machine (which resembles an ATM) and enter the code. The online prompts then lead you through the process. If you have insurance, InstyMeds will ask for your insurance information and will determine the co-pay for your prescription. If you do not have insurance, InstyMeds’ machine allows you to pay with cash or a credit card. Following payment, your prescription will then be dispensed. InstyMeds doesn’t work for all prescriptions, like those that need to be refrigerated, but does include the 100 or so most common medications prescribed by emergency room and urgent care physicians. If the patient has questions, each InstyMeds machine has a phone that directly connects the patient to InstyMeds’ call center where licensed pharmacists are on duty.
The advantages of InstyMeds’ operations create a “win win” situation for both patients and hospitals and urgent care facilities. The facilities where the machines are present share in the income they produce. Hospitals and urgent care centers have also found that patients who are seen in the middle of the day, with a pharmacy nearby, still use the InstyMeds machine to avoid the wait time one normally experiences at a pharmacy. The InstyMeds machines are supported by a full support system. Each machine is connected to the Internet, which alerts InstyMeds’ headquarters if certain medications need to be replenished or if there are any medications present that need to be replaced due to nearing expiration dates.