Birmingham Business Journal

MedSnap launches medication identification app

The latest MedSnap product aims to correct medication errors that make up 8 percent of U.S. health care spending.

The up-and-coming firm, based at the Innovation Depot in Birmingham, announced last week the launch of MedSnap ID, an app available on the iPhone 4S and 5 that identifies prescription medications.

As seen in this clip, the app’s functions use the iPhone camera to identify medication. The information obtained includes generics by name and strength, “drug-drug” and “drug-disease” interactions and detailed clinical information via a professional database, according to a news release.

MedSnap CEO Patrick Hymel told me that medication errors are caused by a combination of patient, dispensing and prescription mistakes. He said the errors cost the health care market about $200 billion annually.

“Taking medication history is a critical aspect of what’s going to happen in an emergency department,” he said, “Yet, it’s very easy for people to forget, or give an older list of medications.”

“MedSnap ID snaps a patient’s medication and can demonstrate, ‘That’s what I’m taking.’ They can show you the benefit of that if patients made a mistake.”

Hymel said patients commit medication errors, for example, by accidentally swapping pills at home. Also, 7 percent of electronic and 37 percent of handwritten prescriptions contain at least one error, while 2 to 3 percent of medication dispensed by community pharmacies contain an error, he said.

“The only way to catch that sort of thing is to make sure the actual pills they’re taking are correct,” he said.

While he didn’t disclose specifics, Hymel said activity generated by MedSnap ID will initiate growth at the firm. Currently, the firm employs 16 full-time and 7 part-time employees.

“We’re very impressed with the market’s response and optimistic about the future,” he said.

Another related project MedSnap has worked on is its Visual Pill Library, a database containing information on more than 3,000 of the most well-known prescription pills in the U.S.

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