SPECIAL DELIVERY

Digital pharmacy prescribes free same-day delivery service for Austin

Digital pharmacy prescribes free same-day delivery service for Austin

Capsule digital pharmacy and prescription-delivery service. Austin.
Prescription delivery service Capsule has launched in Austin, filling prescriptions from its downtown pharmacy. Courtesy of Capsule.

A new prescription delivery service has arrived in Austin — and it may be just what the doctor ordered.

Capsule, billed as the largest independent digital pharmacy in the nation, has launched its free, same-day prescription delivery service in Austin. The company says its planning to serve some 1.5 million residents from its downtown pharmacy.

“Coronavirus has forever changed healthcare, including how consumers obtain and manage their medications — in the safest ways possible,” says Eric Kinariwala, founder and CEO of Capsule, which first rolled out in New York City four years ago. “With more and more people around the nation working from home, medication delivery provides a safe way to continue social distancing while consistently accessing medications needed to stay healthy.”

The Capsule concept was born when Kinariwala encountered an all-too-common experience at his local pharmacy: After standing in line for an hour to fill a prescription, he was told the pharmacy was out of stock of his medication. The incident sparked the idea for Capsule, which employs predictive inventory software so the medications patients need are never out of stock.

It is the digitally innovative aspect of Capsule that makes it a natural fit for Austin, according to the company. (By the way, Capsule’s founding pharmacist, Sonia Patel, received her degree from the University of Texas at Austin.) Once a user has signed up through the Capsule app or online, their prescriptions are transferred from their previous pharmacy to Capsule, which then sends a text to schedule free, same-day doorstep delivery. The only cost to patients is their insurance copay, and Capsule works with all major insurance plans.

Key to the concept is that patients can text and chat in real time with pharmacists, see the cost of medications, and manage prescriptions from their phones. Noting it’s a good option “whether you’re sick or just sick of your pharmacy,” Capsule aims to make filling prescriptions less of a bitter pill to swallow. According to the company, nationally, between 34 and 52 percent of prescriptions are never picked up from pharmacies, and four in 10 patients have to make multiple trips to the pharmacy because of stocking issues.

With its holistic pharmacy model, Capsule — which notes it has already increased the rate at which its users fill their prescriptions by 50 percent — aspires to provide personalized care alongside the ease of free prescription delivery. Tack on the new normal of social distancing and COVID-19 safety concerns, and the model seems well-suited to the times.  

“Our patients love the Capsule experience. They can now complete their virtual or home visit with our doctor and then receive their medications on the same day, from the safety and comfort of their own home,” says Dr. Jeremy Gabrysch, one of the early doctor adopters of Capsule and the founder of Remedy, an Austin-based digital healthcare provider. “Capsule is also enabling our doctors to provide better patient care as a result of higher fill rates and the associated higher adherence for the medications we prescribe to Capsule’s pharmacy.”

In addition to healthcare professionals and patients welcoming the digital-pharmacy and prescription-delivery concept, it’s a pursuit that’s gaining a lot of attention in the business world, with Forbes recently calling out Capsule as one of the nation’s next billion-dollar startups. The company is in major expansion mode, hoping to grow outside of its current markets of Austin, New York City, Boston, Chicago, and the Twin Cities within the next couple years. And while Austin is the first Texas market Capsule has entered, it won’t be the last, with the company confirming it will expand throughout the Lone Star State later this year.

“We’ll be everywhere in the next 18 months,” Kinariwala told Forbes. “We’re not going to launch one at a time. There will be a bunch of places.”