5-Brands-to-Watch-in-Healthcare-Technology1.jpgHaving a strong brand is of the upmost importance for any organization as it defines the perception of the buyer in the marketplace and determines if a potential customer will make a one-time purchase or become a loyal lifelong user of the product. This is perhaps even more true in the highly competitive healthcare technology industry. Consumer demand for tools that make healthcare more accessible has spurred steep competition to bring innovative technology platforms to market.

In this two-part blog series, we'll look at five different healthcare technology brands that are set to make a stir this year when it comes to helping patients take control of their care and some challenges they might face along the way. Though some may be more well known than others, all of the companies on the list are reshaping the dynamics of healthcare and providing new tools to help patients take better care of themselves.

We predict this will be an important year for adoption of new technologies and an interesting one to watch as these brands rise to fame in 2016!

Read on for the first two of our top picks.

5. PillPak: Changing the way consumers look at pharmacies.

Designed for and used mostly by patients who need to take multiple prescription medications, Manchester, New Hampshire-based PillPak is a virtual pharmacy that coordinates with insurance providers and physicians to simplify ordering, receiving and managing prescriptions. After a doctor e-prescribes or faxes in a prescription, PillPak will send its customers their medications for the next 14 days, prepackaged by dose. So, instead of receiving one giant bottle of Lipitor and another bottle of Viread from the average pharmacy, medications from PillPak are packaged together in clear plastic, labeled with the date and time at which they should be taken — essentially eliminating pill bottles altogether and along with it, the problem of wondering if a medication has already been taken. Over the web, customers are able to log in to their PillPak portal and manage refill shipments, review how much their medications cost, how much their insurance is covering, and add over the counter medications or vitamins to their order. To add an extra layer of service, PillPak even offers 24-7 access to their pharmacists by phone, and accepts most drug insurance plans, including Medicare.

The Brand Challenge:

In a retail pharmacy world dominated by CVSs, Walgreens and Walmarts, how will Pillpak’s service stand up against the local pharmacy as consumers’ go-to source for prescriptions? According to the company, 2016 promises to be the year to confront that challenge head on. In June 2015, PillPak raised an additional $50M in funding to begin to establish a brick-and-mortar retail footprint across the country and launch a mobile app that will include features such as connecting PillPak users directly with pharmacists. Still, the deep pockets of the pharmacy giants means they are poised to compete. CVS may have a pilot program in the works that’s very similar to PillPack, and their acquision of Onmicare back in May could give them the tools they need to get a leg up and grab hold of a significant share of the market.

4. Collective Health: Disrupting the employer-paid insurance model.

Born out of a bad healthcare experience, Collective Health aims to reinvent the way people pay for healthcare. When co-founder Ali Diab found himself stuck with a massive medical bill that his insurance company wouldn’t pay –– calling the surgery “experimental” or citing physician error as the reasons for the denial –– he knew he had to do something. The solution? A software that helps employers of all sizes transition away from fully insured plans to affordable self-funded healthcare, letting them pick and choose what is covered for their employees in what Collective Health hopes is a much more efficient payment process.

The Brand Challenge:

Backed by $119 million in funding from deep pocket investors, including Google Ventures, the company plans to spend 2016 expanding its health insurance solution to employers nationwide. Yet even with the necessary funding and partnerships with Anthem and Blue Shield of California in their back pocket, growing beyond the current California-only service area may be a challenge for the brand. This type of payment model requires completely changing employers’ ways of thinking — particularly those with less than 100 employees, for whom going fully insured has long been the only option. On top of this, effectively communicating the cost saving benefits will be critical, as employers in this model would take on the liability and risk associated with uncertain healthcare costs. Collective Health is certainly one to watch this year.

Stay tuned for the completion of the list next week, where we will uncover the remaining three healthcare technology brands to watch in 2016!

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