Why Medisafe? A Message from Medisafe’s Chief Medical Officer

The following is a guest post written by Dr. Danny Sands, Chief Medical Officer for Medisafe. 


In January, I started working for Medisafe as part-time chief medical officer. Who am I and why did I choose to do this?

I am a primary care physician but have spent over 25 years working with health information technology. I trained in clinical informatics (at Beth Israel–later Beth Israel Deaconess–and  Harvard Medical School in Boston) because I was frustrated that we weren’t leveraging IT in clinical care and therefore delivering sub-optimal care. I then took on operational responsibility for developing, implementing, and evaluating clinical IT systems, including an electronic health record, clinical decision support systems, our first clinicians’ portal, and our first patient portal. (Interestingly, one of my big projects involved medication safety.)

While that initially motivated me, in my own practice I was discovering that IT could also be a tool that enabled and empowered patients, as well, and that it could also connect patients and their physicians.

I changed my clinical IT work from Beth Israel Deaconess to industry, where I felt that could have a broader impact. As chief medical officer I helped one company, Zix Corporation, become a leader in e-prescribing and then helped to lead healthcare at Cisco for six years. Along the way I was a founder of a non-profit, the Society for Participatory Medicine, that views patient care as a collaboration between patient and clinician and supports patients taking a greater role in their health and healthcare as engaged “e-patients.” I am currently the chairman of this wonderful and growing organization.

For the last five years I have been advising and working with companies that are doing innovative things in healthcare, such as leveraging technology in unique ways, facilitating new models of healthcare delivery, and engaging patients. When I really believe in a company and like the people, I work with them as a long-term part of the team, often as a part-time chief medical officer.

Through all the outside work I have done, I continue to take care of patients in my practice in Healthcare Associates at Beth Israel Deaconess. One of the things that has always frustrated me has been when patients don’t adhere to their care plan, which includes their prescribed medications. Medical non-adherence is a major problem, costing over $100 billion, contributing to over 10% of hospitalization, and causing 100,000 deaths per year in the US alone.

In my own practice, I have learned how to ask patients in a non-judgmental way about their drug adherence, and to tease out the reasons they may not be taking their medications. When I find out about patient adherence issues from their health plans I contact them, reminding them of the importance of taking their medications. I know that when I involve patients in medication decisions and education they are more likely to take their medications. But still I am only in contact with patients a tiny sliver of their lives. And as we know, health happens between visits.

If only there could be way to help my patients stick to the plan to which they’ve committed.

Enter Medisafe, a free tool for patients to help them remember to take prescribed medications. Although reminders aren’t everything, they are a part of the drug adherence solution. Medisafe users seem to take their drugs much more consistently than baseline adherence levels. And the system has helped millions of patients around the world.

I’m excited about working with this terrific team. Among other things, I want to help make the product even better, get it into the hands of more people, create more potent personalized interventions, and evaluate their impact. And I’d like Medisafe to be something that physicians routinely recommend to their patients.

Ultimately, this is about creating tools that help patients better manage their health. And I’m all about that.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me at drdanny@medisafe.com.