People to Know 2013: Josh Stein
Can a simple pill bottle morph into a high-tech tool to help you live better with diabetes? Entrepreneur Josh Stein believes it can. He and two cofounders of the New York–based company AdhereTech have invented a new take on the ubiquitous orange pharmacy bottle, complete with flashing reminder lights and built-in cell-phone technology that keeps track of your dosing. Skip your pill now and then, and you'll get a "friendly reminder" on your phone. Skip more often, and you'll get an automated phone call asking whether you've just been forgetful or whether you're struggling with motivation, financial hurdles, or other impediments to taking your meds regularly.
For people with diabetes, not taking meds as prescribed—whether they be type 2 oral medications or drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, neuropathy, or some other condition—happens far too often. "There are drugs that work, and people have access to them, but they stay very sick since they don't take the drugs," Josh says. "It's a problem that's getting worse and can be improved if people take their medication."
A Wharton graduate and self-proclaimed "business guy" whose parents both work in health care, Josh teamed up with "software guy" John Langhauser and "hardware guy" Mike Morena to invent a tool to help. Their intelligent pill bottle trumps similar existing products because it does more than track opening and closing of the container. It also tracks contents of the bottle in real time and uses Bluetooth wireless technology to store the data in an open repository (yet compliant with federal rules on health information privacy and security), where it can easily be shared with a health care provider, or family and friends if desired. There's no special setup required. You would get the pre-programmed prescription bottle from your pharmacy (retail or mail order), and as soon as you opened the bottle, it would start sending data to the Internet.
AdhereTech recently won the $50,000 grand prize in this year's Healthcare Innovation World Cup, a Boehringer Ingelheim–sponsored competition honoring the most promising innovations to help people with diabetes. The company is kicking off a number of patient studies with its prototype this year and plans to submit for Food and Drug Administration Class 1 device approval in time for a 2014 product launch.