Everybody needs some looking after sometimes

A year or so ago, I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and began to draw what a pharmacy should look like. If we were to get rid of the pharmacies on every street corner (along with their aisles of candy and greeting cards) and focus on providing a better experience for people, what would it look like?

Fast forward a year, and we’ve built it. We worked from the inside out, rebuilding all of the things you see and all of the things you don’t. By cutting out inefficiencies and connecting medication back to the rest of the healthcare system, we’re creating a system that’s simpler for you and me, for doctors, and for insurers. Because we should all expect more from our pharmacy.

Today, we’re launching Capsule, starting in New York City, to build a better, nicer, kinder, smarter pharmacy to make life simpler and healthier for everyone. A next-generation pharmacy made for a world where you prefer to interact digitally and one where the health system finally puts everybody on the same team.

The things you see

Last year, I had a nightmare experience trying to get an out-of-stock Z-Pak that kicked off this journey. I’d spent several years in retail and healthcare investing and was intimately aware of the healthcare system as a whole, but the pharmacy was still a mystery. Around the same time, I reconnected with an old friend who had spent ten years as a pharmacist and troubleshooting problem pharmacies in the Walmart system. Together, we spent the last year piecing together the problems of the pharmacy from the perspective of doctors, insurers, and people who just need their medication.

We live in the country that pays more for healthcare than any other country, but our pharmacies aren’t working to keep us healthy. The pharmacy industry is too large, too broken, and too focused on squeezing every last dollar out of legacy business models to innovate.

You see it when you go to the pharmacy: long wait times, out-of-stock medications, difficulty obtaining refills, price opacity, and a lack of clarity, discretion, and comfort in seeking medication guidance and information. The broken pharmacy system has made it difficult for people to access and understand the medication that they take daily. And when we start to dislike and avoid the pharmacy, we start to dislike and avoid our medications.

Capsule is building the very best pharmacy experience possible to make sure we never start to dislike and avoid the medications that keep us healthy. We’ve built our own pharmacy in downtown Manhattan and we hand-deliver medication to your door. We’re investing in technology and care instead of stores and shelf space on every street corner in New York.

And the things you don’t

The pharmacy isn’t just broken for you and me, it doesn’t work for anyone in healthcare. This is a unique moment and opportunity to build a pharmacy that works for everyone — one that is fully integrated for consumers, physicians, hospitals, payors, and manufacturers.

  • Clinicians use 20–25% of their front-office staff’s time dealing with pharmacy and prescription insurance complications. There’s no visibility into whether treatment plans are actually carried out. Doctors often alter prescriptions based on what they expect to be in stock. As patients, we should all be alarmed.
  • Employers and insurers who help pay for our medications have no visibility, data, analytics, or tools to help ensure people are obtaining and taking their medication. The lack of a responsive, real-time system results in significant amounts of waste.
  • Companies developing therapies have no visibility about the effectiveness of medications in the field, making it difficult to develop additional therapies.

We interact with the pharmacy and our medication multiples more frequently than any other entity in the healthcare system. But pharmacies aren’t built to embrace this natural engagement point and deliver better care by building long-term relationships with people. Why doesn’t my pharmacy or my doctor follow-up with me after I’m prescribed something? Why doesn’t anyone check-in to see if the medication is making me feel better or worse? Why doesn’t anyone try to help me remember to take my doses or remind me that I shouldn’t eat a grapefruit with my blood pressure medication? Why doesn’t my doctor know which therapies my insurance covers? Why don’t I know the cost of my medication before I get to the pharmacy? And why isn’t there a single, holistic experience that makes all of this happen?

Medication is disconnected from the rest of healthcare. By building tools and harnessing data to connect medication back to the system, Capsule is the platform which modernizes medication, leading to better experiences and better health outcomes to everyone’s benefit.

Modern technology, trusted relationships

The pharmacy is an iceberg — we only see 10% of what’s going on. And our frustrating experiences are highly indicative of the innovation required to improve the 90% we don’t see. Rebuilding the guts, the pipes, and platform facilitating this industry is core to realizing our vision of an effortless and holistic pharmacy. It’s why half of our team is focused on product and engineering.

Our values are centered around building trusted relationships. Enduring teams, brands, and companies all have one thing in common — they are internally and externally aligned. For us, that means our promise to the people who depend on Capsule for their medication is the same as the promise we make to each other: everybody needs some looking after sometimes. It’s our way of remembering that our job is to look after one another — whether it’s the person sitting next to us or the person who needs her medication and some advice on how to take it. It’s only by trusting one another that our team comes together to build something unique and meaningful. And it’s only by building trust and providing peace of mind for the people who use Capsule that we’re able to make a difference in their lives. We’ll never lose sight of the fact that behind all of the complexity of healthcare we’re just people looking after other people.

Whether that’s effortlessly getting you an antibiotic when you’re sick or ensuring your insulin is always there when you need it as a diabetic, we’re building a pharmacy to provide care that’s never been possible before.

I believe a modern pharmacy that works for everyone is an inevitability. It’s a towering task — to invert the entire pharmacy, to rebuild the pipes and platform, but one we all need and deserve. I’m humbled to lead an exceptional team and to have the support of phenomenal investors, led by Jared Weinstein and the team at Thrive Capital. We’re excited to help make your life a healthier and easier — today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.