A 2018 paper titled “Medication Adherence: The Elephant in the Room” begins with a bombshell: “According to the World Health Organization, medication adherence can have a more direct impact on patient outcomes than the specific treatment itself. Medication adherence can affect quality and length of life, health outcomes, and overall healthcare costs. Nonadherence can account for up to 50% of treatment failures, around 125,000 deaths, and up to 25% of hospitalizations each year in the United States.”
COAD Health founder and University of Utah Master of Business Creation student Rose Engler knows the nonadherence struggle firsthand. When her father, Bill Engler, was diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease, he had trouble consistently remembering to take his medication on the schedule prescribed by his doctors. A few months later, he suffered a stroke caused primarily by nonadherence to his cardiovascular medication.
Stunned, anxious, and armed with this knowledge, Engler and her other family members immediately began reminding Bill daily to take his medicine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, with concerned and caring family checking in every day, this time he was able to stay on track and formed a healthy medication routine.
When Engler’s father made a complete turnaround and was healthy with — and partially thanks to — a 100% adherence rate, they started thinking outward. “We wanted to take this personal experience and make it into something that could be shared and easily replicated,” Rose said. “That’s where we came up with the idea for COAD: simple sensors in the compartments of a revolutionary smart pillbox that notify an app when medication is taken (or not) and then sends scheduled reminders out to a few people you’ve chosen to help remind you.”
Not long after the idea’s inception, the team grew to include Loan Anh Tran and Roshannah Gaur, skilled engineers and computer scientists who were good friends of Engler’s. They too had been impacted by the difficulty of medical adherence and jumped at the opportunity to be involved in an elegant solution that could help them and their families.
“Initially, we weren’t looking to start a startup; we had a problem that we wanted to solve and then worked to figure out how to make it a business,” Rose said about one of the company’s greatest strengths: their uniting passion to help patients create healthy medical habits. And that passion has paid off: since the company’s inception, they’ve won thousands of dollars in grants, developed a working product, and secured partnerships with hospitals for testing.
The COAD team was part of an MBC cohort in partnership with Brown University, something the team says was invaluable for learning the ropes of business administration and growth. “It’s been so helpful to have the cohort learning and mentorship from the MBC,” says Gaur, “and the relationships we have with the faculty are awesome.”
To learn more about COAD, purchase their product, or contact the team, visit coadhealth.com.