MediSafe, an Israeli start-up in the personal health field, is the winner of a $100,000 prize in this year’s Qprize Regional Competition, given out by Qualcomm Ventures for technology innovation, communications giant Qualcomm announced Sunday. MediSafe is now ready to move on to the Qprize finals, set to be held in June in San Francisco, where it could earn another $150,000.

Medisafe is a cloud-synced mobile personalized medication management system which helps people to integrate healthier behavior into their daily lives. “People do not take their meds correctly,” said Omri Shor, founder and CEO of MediSafe. “Besides endangering the health of individuals, complications resulting from incorrect use of medicine costs insurance companies nearly $200 million a year.” More than 700,000 people in the US are hospitalized annually because they skipped or took incorrect dosages, according to Shor. Statistically, every 19 minutes an American dies because of medication non-adherence. Whether they are elderly, diabetic or suffering from a temporary illness, adherence is critical to patients’ health.

To correct this, Shor and his team developed MediSafe, a social network for families and caregivers that provides information and scheduling suggestions about what medications a patient is supposed to take. The app reminds patients when it’s time to take specific medications while alerting others on the network that a reminder has been sent. Family members can then check on their loved one, making sure they took the right dose on time. Once a dose is taken, the patient presses a button on the app, letting everyone know that the dose was taken correctly.

The app is more efficient and safer than relying on a patient to remember which pill to take based on a printed list, or even on a pillbox with the correct doses loaded in individual compartments, intended to guide the user as to amount and timing of doses. “It’s not sufficient to rely on the memory or habits of the patient,” said Shor. “That is a recipe for tragedy, because the user can easily forget or make a mistake, especially if they are ill. Even relying on one individual to mind the patient isn’t enough.”

Instituting a social network to keep an eye on patients, with several people communicating with the patient and each other, is more effective. Patients correctly took their meds 81 percent of the time using the app, according to Shor’s statistics, better than the usual compliance rate of approximately 50%.

MediSafe’s revenue model is based on Big Data collection and usage, said Shor. “We collect anonymized data on users, which we can bring to pharmaceutical firms to show them which medications are being used by patients in an area or for a specific malady. This data is very useful to the pharma companies because it is one of the few ways for them to keep track of pharmaceutical usage in the field.” The app has been downloaded nearly half a million times, said Shor, with at least 20 million doses recorded on MediSafe’s servers.

Besides a free downloadable app in the App Store and Google Play, MediSafe provides various health care organizations, HMOs, doctors’ groups and insurance companies with their own branded version of the app, enabling them to easily provide an extra service for their clients, Shor said.

MediSafe won the $100,000 regional prize as much for the app itself, which Qualcomm judges said was easy to use and effective, as for the company’s revenue model. MediSafe was “selected based on the merits of the technology innovation, its industry potential, the company’s management capabilities and the attainability of the proposal’s financial projections,” Qualcomm said. Judges included Mony Hassid and Merav Weinryb from Qualcomm Ventures Israel, a division of Qualcomm’s worldwide investment arm; Modi Rosen and Yahal Zilka from Magama; Isaac Hillel from Pitango; Avichay Nisenbaum from Lool Ventures; Yoav Zruya from JVP; Jonathan Saacks from GenesisPartners; and Gigi Levy, a serial angel investor.

The next stop is San Francisco, where MediSafe will compete against winners from seven other regions in the Qprize finals, taking place June 9 and 10 at Bloomberg’s “Next Big Thing” summit. Competition will be stiff, but Qualcomm Ventures’s Hassid believes MediSafe has what it takes to bring home the gold. “The pace of innovation has never been greater. This year’s QPrize finalists are a testament to the type of great ideas that are developing into potentially game-changing start-ups,” said Hassid. “MediSafe embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship. We congratulate them on their accomplishments and look forward to seeing them in the grand prize competition.”

Click below for a news report about the MediSafe pill reminder app: