With giftHEALTH, Nick Potts wants to change healthcare again.
For years, the process of filling and picking up a prescription has been largely the same. A script is sent to your local pharmacy, you visit or call to see when it will be ready and you pick it up when you can. But with his new project, one of Ohio’s most visible entrepreneurs in the healthcare field wants to change the game again, this time with prescription-oriented startup giftHEALTH.
“We’re building a technical solution for pharmacies that drives innovation for patients and will make it easier for them and, in the long term, lower the price of medication,” said co-founder Nick Potts. “We think of it as a prescription brain. Any physician or patient around the entire country can send their prescription to the giftHEALTH brain, and on the back end we partner with pharmacies to be able to transfer that prescription to a location that’s local to you based on a number of factors. It helps people get on their therapy faster, identify cheaper paths on the copay side and find free delivery and enhanced customer service experiences.”
Potts is a veteran of the central Ohio startup scene, working with CoverMyMeds during their early days and co-founding ScriptDrop in 2016. He said he’s excited about giftHEALTH because of the platform’s ability to affect change at a meaningful point in the prescription process for customers, and also because of his co-founder John Romano, who he knew from the pair’s early days working at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Behind the scenes, giftHEALTH is operating a complex piece of software that does a lot of work. But for the consumer, it’s easy to see the potential impact that Potts loves.
“Right now, you go to your physician and they write you a prescription and ask, ‘What pharmacy?’ There’s no brain or thinking behind that,” said Potts. “The physician sends the prescription over to the pharmacy and you don’t know if they have the drug in stock, if they’re busy and backed up or if they offer delivery. You wait in line, they tell you it’s not ready and to come back in a few hours. Most places don’t offer free delivery, so that’s another trip for you. It adds a lot of steps and friction. Our platform sends the prescription to a brain that makes those decisions. It knows the pharmacies that have the drug in stock, offer delivery and work with your provider. We pick the pharmacy that isn’t busy, offers free delivery and sends it to your home in an hour or two.”
Romano was also part of ScriptDrop, managing independent pharmacy sales for the quickly growing startup. Similar to Potts, he said the allure of giftHEALTH comes from its mission. He believes the project can quickly scale across the country, and imagines the impact it can make on people like his own mom.
“We can help patients nationwide and make medication more accessible for everyone,” he said. “There’s a huge need there today, and there isn’t a great solution someone can go to and help them get medication to their home quickly for the best price. I think of my mom needing an antibiotic — if her pharmacy doesn’t have it, she has no clue how to transfer her prescription to another pharmacy or find one where her information is preferred for the lower drug cost. We want to really improve that process for patients nationwide.”
The startup has recently opened an operational pharmacy in Columbus that serves as a testing ground for their software. They’re adding participating pharmacies as they continue to expand, with the goal of being able to serve any customer. And with an eye on nationwide growth, Potts has the experience to know that Columbus is the perfect home base.
“There have been some major health tech exits lately and you already have companies like Cardinal Health, CoverMyMeds or McKesson, along with big companies like Root and their IPO — so there’s a lot of healthcare talent in Columbus,” he said. “The venture market is also having a lot of success, making it easier than ever before to raise funding. With giftHEALTH, we raised over $1 million in two weeks. All these companies scaling and growing their solutions have offered so much validation to the area.”