Several months ago, I was at the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacist Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. Despite the tumultuous event and large showcase room, I found myself pulled to a small booth demonstrating a new and novel way to identify medications with a smartphone camera.
The company is called MedSnap, and was founded by Dr. Patrick Hymel, an ex-ER physician, and Dr. Stephen Brosette out of Birmingham, AL. The essence of the product is that MedSnap incorporates the camera of an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 to scan medications placed against a specially designed surface. Whereupon, the device uses MedSnap’s proprietary app (MedSnap ID) to determine what medications are present.
Perhaps the most amazing part of this process was how they attained all the images for their database. It cannot be denied that crowd-sourcing other health professionals is an untapped source of information that many developers and companies would benefit from, and that is exactly what MedSnap did. At their booth, MedSnap was giving away their product for pharmacists to play with (because who else deals with pills on a daily basis in a multitude of strengths and formulations) and contribute to their “MedSnaps’s Pill Mapping Project.”
My initial thoughts on this new product is that there are multiple possibilities of incorporating it into clinical practice and patient care. Foremost, this may be a viable option for clinics and hospitals that seek a way to identify medications brought in by patients. As a pharmacist, there have been many times where I have come across medications in a pillbox or single pill bottle that the patient and family do not recognize. While using pill identification software via already existing platforms (e.g. Lexicomp, Micromedex 2.0) are my go to, this may be a quicker way to identify various medications at the same time without inputting them individually.
The other factor is that this may be a great tool for patients to use at home, as MedSnap also has in the works another program whereby patients can track their medications and verify they are taking the right medications, and also share their data and habits with other health professionals.
Currently, my concerns are whether this product can be used with medications that are outside of the US (due to the current system of crowd-sourced information) and the cost. At $19.99 – 29.99 for a surface platform, and an annual license fee of $69.99 to use the app, this may be a limiting factor for mass adoption by patients.
iMedicalApps will run a review of the product in the near future and an interview with the developers, so stay tuned!