Dr. Arvind Movva, a gastroenterologist in Moline, Illinois, was in the early stages of developing a new online pharmacy company in the fall of 2014 when he engaged marketing firm owner Ted Thoms, AS’92, in brainstorming the promotion of the new business. By the following spring, Movva was ready to hire a lead pharmacist.
“There’s someone you definitely need to talk to,” Thoms told him.
That person was Kelly Caldbeck, PH’01, a pharmacist who had served with Toms on Drake alumni boards. Through their conversations Thoms learned about the challenges she faced in retail pharmacy, particularly in helping older patients and their caregivers. Recalling Caldbeck’s compassion and customer-focused mentality, Thoms knew Caldbeck was the right professional to help steer Movva’s start-up: divvyDOSE. The doctor agreed.
Based in the Quad Cities, divvyDOSE is notable for its unique dispensing system. Rather than filling traditional prescription bottles, medications are presorted and bundled in clearly labeled, tear-off packets. The date, time of day, and content list printed on each divvyPACK helps patients take medications as prescribed.
“There are a number of key areas we cater to well. One is older people—and their caregivers, if they have them. Another is people who travel a lot, since we eliminate counting and sorting before a trip,” explains Thoms. “We also package vitamins and supplements, so we appeal to people who should be taking them every day but have a hard time keeping up with it. Our largest area is people with chronic conditions.”
According to Thoms, mismanaged medication leads to around 125,000 deaths a year—two times the number of deaths due to breast cancer. There is $290 billion in costs associated with medications taken incorrectly.
“We’re just like any other pharmacy in the way that we receive and fill prescriptions, so the only difference is that we package differently,” says Caldbeck. “Our design only allows for compliance, which in the long run is going to keep patients healthier.”
Compliance is a serious concern, especially for patients over age 65. Medication complications for seniors and their caretakers were one of the significant challenges driving Caldbeck away from retail pharmacy and toward divvyDOSE.
“One of the biggest things I saw was caregivers struggling to keep their parents independent while also trying to manage their medications,” says Caldbeck. “It’s time-consuming, it’s frustrating, and I wanted a way to eliminate the time caregivers take with prescriptions and allow them to spend it with their parents.”
There are also those who struggle with the complicated medication regimens required by medical conditions like Parkinson’s, COPD, and HIV. By packaging multiple dosages per day, divvyDOSE offers patients more structure and control.
“For example, with Parkinson’s, taking the medication at consistent times is imperative. Taking the medication at a certain time influences the effectiveness of the drug, so the time between doses does make a difference,” explains Caldbeck. “With our app, you would have an alarm go off on your phone to remind you to take medications at a certain time each day.”
divvyDOSE builds a personalized product for each customer based on needed prescriptions, vitamins, and supplements. The pharmacy then delivers a compact box to the patient’s doorstep. Currently, divvyDOSE is licensed in 27 states.
“We have been met with a little skepticism,” said Thoms. “People ask, ‘Well, what’s the catch?’ There isn’t one.”