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ZappRx launches pilot test in New York, hoping to streamline the process of getting a prescription

Posted by Scott Kirsner  July 22, 2013 09:00 AM

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Can a smartphone app eliminate some of the snafus that can happen in getting prescriptions from a doctor's office to a pharmacy and then into a patient's hands?

That's the vision of a Boston startup, ZappRx, that is launching its first real-world test in Manhattan this week. The test involves a single pharmacy on the Upper East Side and two doctors — one is director of the Weill Cornell Medical Center — who will invite interested patients who own iPhones to participate.

Patients who use the app will be able to enter their insurance information into their phone, along with a credit card number for co-pays, and then show the phone's screen "like a mobile boarding pass" when they arrive at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, says founder and CEO Zoe Barry. Afterward, the app can provide reminders about when the medication is intended to be taken — and send your doctor a message that you've picked up the medicine (something they typically don't know today.) Patients can also use ZappRx to keep tabs on their symptoms, or order refills.

On the back end, docs use an iPad or PC to access a web-based prescription interface. "Our software allows for two-way communications between the pharmacy and the doctor," Barry explains. "Today, if there's a question or some missing piece of information, that creates lots of faxing and calling back and forth." She says ZappRx's revenue could come from both pharmacies and doctors, for streamlining the process and supplying information they don't get today.

The current trial isn't intended to gather data about how the system impacts patient or doctor behavior, Barry says: "We're just trying to make it convenient, and make the users happy."

ZappRx has six employees, including chief technology officer Matthew Graziano, who joined earlier this year from RunKeeper.

Barry says she raised a seed round earlier this year, from a group of investors including Hakan Satiroglu, founder of Exponential Techspace in Boston and Michael Silverman, co-founder of The Fancy, a customer-curated online shop.

She's talking with primary care physicians and independent pharmacies in Boston about conducting a test locally.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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