Pharmacy Startup Delivers All Meds to Patients' Doors

A unique pharmacy startup called Capsule boasts that it's a pharmacy you'll never visit, but might want to."

A unique pharmacy startup called Capsule boasts that it’s “a pharmacy you’ll never visit, but might want to.”

The New York-based company delivers all medications to patients’ doors for the same co-pay they’d pay at a traditional pharmacy.

Controlled substances are also delivered, but the delivery runners check the patients’ ID at the door. Capsule noted on its website that these delivery employees are trained on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act security and via a Department of Transportation Commercial Bicyclist Safety Course.

The medication arrives in a “discreet, tamper-sealed package,” and the delivery employees aren’t briefed on the contents.

Pharmacists can counsel patients through digital platforms, and medication instructions are also provided digitally.

The pharmacy also offers smart refills, auto-syncing, price transparency updates, and ongoing support, according to its founders.

Sonia Patel, PharmD, is the pharmacist in charge at Capsule and has more than a decade of experience in the pharmacy world. The founder and CEO of Capsule is Eric Kinariwala, whose background is in health care and retail investing.

Dr. Patel, who has previously worked for Kroger and Sam’s Club, told Pharmacy Times that she spent more than a decade troubleshooting for traditional retail pharmacies.

“Pharmacists are ranked as one of the most trusted professions in the United States but are…pressured to focus on quotas and goals and end up treating patients like numbers, not people,” Dr. Patel said. “Capsule lets pharmacists be pharmacists.”

The company maintained that it has been able to invest its time and resources in technology and patient experiences and care, instead of thinking about other products at a pharmacy, like candy or toilet paper.

Dr. Patel also noted that Capsule pharmacists can spend more time building relationships with patients, rather than just filling prescriptions. If patients have questions about their medication, pharmacists can talk to them via text messaging or over the phone.

“We’ve tried to make talking to a pharmacist as frictionless as possible to ensure that people are comfortable asking personal questions to their pharmacist,” Dr. Patel explained. “We created a variety communication channels, so that people can communicate how they feel the most comfortable. We’ve noticed that people are more open with pharmacists when they can ask questions where and when they are the most at ease.”

Medication therapy management is done in-house by Capsule’s team of pharmacists. Dr. Patel noted that the goal is to encourage collaboration and understanding among pharmacists, patients, and physicians so that patients are safely and effectively treated.

Some have referred to Capsule as an “Uber for drugs,” but Dr. Patel said the company is simply using technology to create a smarter pharmacy, and hand delivery of drugs just made sense.

“Like many companies that have come before us, Capsule is using technology to facilitate better care,” Dr. Patel said. “More than half of our team is made up of product and engineering talent (including Foursquare’s former head of mobile engineering, Tim Vetter) who have built the pipes and platform behind Capsule.”

For now, Capsule has only 1 location in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.

“But we think that all Americans deserve a better pharmacy experience,” Dr. Patel said.