Former executive editor at Wired magazine Thomas Goetz has team-up with Google engineer Matt Mohebbi over a bold goal to improve healthcare. Their brand-new venture, called Iodine, is an online service for tailored drug-taking information and advice, that was officially launched at the Health 2.0 conference.
For hundreds of drugs, the website provides basic information about each drug, along with the upsides and downsides of taking a drug, price and co-pays, alternative drugs and interactive tools.Iodine joins a growing number of health startups relying on data analysis in innovative ways, employing sensors and smartphones to provide early warning signals about conditions like diabetes, depression and asthma.
The company is using Google Consumer Surveys as a research tool of Americans’ drug experience, intended to help consumers and perhaps guide policy. Iodine combines these survey results with other data sets, including published clinical research, physicians’ reports to the FDA, and surveys of pharmacists to do its magic.
For hundreds of drugs, the website provides basic information about each drug — its purpose, how it works, side effects and warnings — as well as the upsides and downsides of taking a drug, price and co-pays, alternative drugs and interactive tools.
Users on their end are able to see how people rate their experience with a drug based on few survey questions such as: Was taking the drug worth it over all? How well did it work for you? Is taking the drug a “hassle?” Moreover, they [users] can see how drugs are rated by people like themselves, and filter out results by gender and age group.
Outside experts who have seen Iodine’s early work say they are impressed.Outside experts who have seen Iodine’s early work say they are impressed. What’s more, they claim that Iodine’s applied research is addressing a notable information gap in health care, for consumers and providers.
Alas, the company is still looking for the right business model. For one thing, Mr. Goetz says he is leery of advertising, with its potential for visual clutter and conflicts of interest. So it’s unclear how Iodine will make its money.
Meanwhile, there’s certainly a need for the data Iodine is creating. It is said that 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug and 50% take two or more. Yet studies show that half or more of people with chronic diseases do not take their drugs as prescribed. Lack of adherence to drug regimens is estimated to cause 125,000 deaths a year and cost between $100 billion and $289 billion annually.