A tool to help physicians prescribe less-expensive drugs for patients (#appsforphilly health hackathon, 2015)

At the Code for Philly 2015 #AppsForPhilly Health hackathon, a homeless person wrote, on a board, "It feels like the doctors don't care how expensive the drugs they are prescribing are." They didn't stay, but that expression of frustration inspired a team of doctors & developers to attack that problem.

Doctors often prescribe drugs without a resource to help them understand patient costs. In addition to the economic impact on people, the inhibitive costs creates an additonal barrier to patient compliance with medication. Many doctors do want to be able to help their patients with this, but may not be able to easily find alternatives at the time of diagnosis. Doctors are busy - they need a tool built for them specifically, that has a minimum of fuss. It should let them enter a drug & what pharmacies the patient can access, and provide immediate response about where those drugs can be purchased cheaply, how much they'll cost (reducing nasty surprises) and suggesting cheaper generics when possible.

Status as of June, 2015: The Goodrx desktop site (NOT the app) is pretty good for most purposes, according to the physicians in the group. It's not 100% perfect, and it leans a little heavily on Goodrx's own discount coupons, but they felt that it was good enough to promote instead of trying to rebuild separately - especially given the huge data challenges inherent in the initial project.

Anyone looking to attack the problem properly might want to contact the retailers who have this data; that said, price data changes rarely and manually copying it from pdfs/paper is not out of the question with a little gruntwork.

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