One day, Tom Rhoads, founder, and CEO of Spencer Health Solutions found himself in the emergency room waiting for news of his father. The doctor came out and asked him and his mother, how his dad handled his medication management.
That was not an easy question to answer. Tom’s father was on eight prescription medications for multiple chronic conditions. He also had arthritis, which made it difficult to open multiple pill bottles throughout the day. Instead, he knew his dose, knew what his pills looked like, so he emptied all the vials into a single Ziploc bag. He plucked the proper dose from the bag four times a day.
That process worked for his dad, but when Tom needed to explain to a doctor his dad’s medication management regimen, he had no further insight but a plastic bag.
“I thought, There has to be a better way for him to manage his medications and have some level of accountability so my mom could worry less,” Tom said.
Founding Spencer Health Solutions
Tom is far from alone in his experience with his dad. Millions of Americans take multiple prescription drugs, but as many as half of them don’t take their medications as prescribed.
“In the beginning, I set out to design a platform that could save my dad’s life,” he said.
From a previous job, Tom had the inspiration for a device that would make medication management simple. But simplifying medication dispensing or medication management wasn’t enough to affect long-term health benefits.
“The real problem was, how do you engage an individual in their home over a long period?” Tom said. That’s where spencer was born. The device had a name, a friendly persona and had to integrate seamlessly into a person’s life. Next, it had to build trust to be able to provide insights into the individual’s health or experience with a medication.
“If we can simplify the medication process, we may earn 10 to 15 seconds of their day to answer some health questions,” Tom said. Answers to these questions feed into a dashboard that provides insights to caregivers, physicians, pharmacists or researchers.
Tom felt it was important to first create technology that was easy to use that people would feel enhances their lives. Too much technology provides only one piece of the puzzle. It doesn’t provide a fully connected solution, or it requires help to set up. The team at Spencer Health Solutions worked to make a device that anyone can operate and that provides insights, allowing for proactive solutions, whether for personal care or research.
“If we’re doing our job, we would see a platform that quickly and seamlessly integrates with someone’s lifestyle,” he said. “Technology should be easy to use and easily accessible. Otherwise, we’ve missed the point.”
So far, Spencer’s use data and adherence rates are showing that this little device is on the right path to make a big difference in people’s lives.
Janet M. Kennedy is a healthcare marketing and social media professional. Janet is the Senior Digital Brand Manager for Spencer Health Solutions and hosts multiple podcasts including Get Social Health and People Always, Patients Sometimes. She is a member of the External Advisory Board of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network.