WatchRx: Helping seniors and their families manage medications

About WatchRx

WatchRx is an all-in-one smartwatch that reminds the elderly to take their medications on time. The built-in phone allows emergency calling, while GPS provides live tracking of Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. It also helps professional and personal caregivers get alerts and real-time status via a smartphone app.

Industries: Healthcare & Life Sciences, Technology
Location: United States

WatchRx was born on Google Cloud Platform, allowing the company to develop a prototype four times faster to help seniors live safer, more independent lives.

Google Cloud Results

  • Scales automatically to provide live tracking for thousands of patients
  • Reduces development costs between 50% and 60%
  • Delivers rich functionality and ability to easily add new features

Accelerates time to market 4x with rapid prototyping

Failing to take medications on time or taking the wrong medication can have disastrous or even fatal consequences—and seniors are particularly at risk. Poor medication adherence is also costly, representing $290 billion in wasted healthcare spend every year, according to the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation. With the number of Americans 65 and older currently at 46 million and expected to reach 89 million by 2060, the nation's 43.5 million family caregivers need all the assistance they can get in helping seniors adhere to their prescriptions.

Smartphones might seem like a natural technology to provide medication reminders, but many seniors don’t want to use them. They’re easily lost, and the variety of apps and functionality can be confusing. WatchRx has an answer: an easy-to-use smartwatch that displays the medication name, image, and dosage along with voice instructions. If medications are missed or a fall is detected, caregivers are alerted. WatchRx is also a mobile phone and a GPS, allowing emergency calling and incoming calls from caregivers. In addition, it provides real-time tracking to help locate users faster and more effectively than a simple “Silver Alert.”

WatchRx saw an opportunity to help seniors stay safe with a wearable Internet of Things (IoT) solution comprising both hardware and cloud-based software—most of its competitors provide only apps. But the healthcare technology market is fast moving and competitive, and WatchRx had to bring a prototype to market quickly. It needed a cloud platform that would be cost effective and offer high performance worldwide, as well as support HIPAA compliance in the United States.

“Developing the back-end services for our WatchRx prototype on Google App Engine allowed us to move a lot quicker. We completed our prototype four times faster—in six weeks instead of six months—and met the submission deadline for a healthcare technology accelerator program.”

Jayanthi Narasimhan, Founder and CEO, WatchRx

After considering various cloud providers, WatchRx decided to build its business on Google Cloud Platform, using Google App Engine to abstract away infrastructure and allow its development team to focus only on code.

“Developing the back-end services for our WatchRx prototype on Google App Engine allowed us to move a lot quicker,” says Jayanthi Narasimhan, Founder and CEO of WatchRx. “We completed our prototype four times faster—in six weeks instead of six months—and met the submission deadline for a healthcare technology accelerator program.”

Essential security and compliance

WatchRx’s use of Google Cloud Platform meets the industry need for a more secure cloud solution for HIPAA-protected information. Without this capability, WatchRx would not be able to use a cloud solution, and its business model would not be viable.

“In healthcare, HIPAA compliance is essential,” says Jayanthi. “With Google Cloud Platform, we don’t have to worry about it. We know that the necessary encryption and data protection measures are being taken care of. When we approach a hospital customer, it’s easy to show them security documentation from Google.”

Tracking patients worldwide

As adoption of WatchRx grows and the company brings on more large customers such as hospitals and telehealth companies, it must be sure that its service can scale. In the near future, WatchRx will be collecting and transmitting more than 150 data points per patient every 15 minutes. Google App Engine scales smoothly and automatically based on request rate, response latencies, and other application metrics, allowing WatchRx to focus on its business. The global reach of Google Cloud Platform will help WatchRx remain performant and compliant as its business grows.

“What we’re doing will quickly become big data as the telehealth market explodes over the next decade,” says Jayanthi. “We know that Google Cloud Platform will accommodate that growth and allow us to provide the performance and responsiveness that’s so essential to healthcare technology.”

“With Google Cloud Platform, we don’t have to hire our own infrastructure and security teams. We don’t need to spend time developing functionality that Google already offers, often for free. With Google Cloud Platform, we improve time to market while reducing development costs between 50% and 60%.”

Jayanthi Narasimhan, Founder and CEO, WatchRx

Reducing development costs by 60%

Like any startup, WatchRx must use its time and financial resources wisely. To add functionality to its solution without expanding its development team, WatchRx uses Google Developers tools. For example, the company uses Firebase Cloud Messaging to send and receive messages from smartwatch devices without having to develop complex code to facilitate two way communication. The free service conveniently handles all aspects of message queueing and delivery, in real time. WatchRx also uses Google Maps API to provide live geo-tracking, and uses the Google Cloud Text-to-Speech screen reader application for Android to provide medication reminders and read instructions aloud.

“With Google Cloud Platform, we don’t have to hire our own infrastructure and security teams,” says Jayanthi. “We don’t need to spend time developing functionality that Google already offers, often for free. With Google Cloud Platform, we improve time to market while reducing development costs between 50% and 60%.”

Accelerating global workflows

WatchRx teams work around the world. To “follow the sun” and enable teams in the United States and India to seamlessly collaborate, the company uses G Suite apps such as Gmail, Google Docs, Drive, Sheets, and Slides.

“Google Cloud Platform gives us the scalability, performance, and security we need to support customers on a large scale, helping to improve medication adherence and reduce the $290 billion that is spent on medication non-adherence.”

Jayanthi Narasimhan, Founder and CEO, WatchRx

Improving healthcare efficiency

WatchRx is not only improving seniors’ daily lives, helping them to live more independently, but also reducing overall healthcare costs. In an era when hospitals are focusing on delivering value-based healthcare, WatchRx helps monitor users’ medication routines and sends alerts about any medication intake errors that could put a user at risk of hospital admittance or re-admittance. By helping prevent medication errors and avoiding the cost of local missing persons searches, WatchRx has the potential to make a serious dent in wasted healthcare and emergency services spend.

Family caregivers taking care of parents often juggle between career, caregiving, and family. Almost 60% of caregivers are stressed out, 25% of them are burned out according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. Lost productivity due to caregivers taking time off work or rescheduling is about $33 billion. WatchRx is aiming to reduce the caregivers’ stress by providing them with an app to receive real-time status from their parents and Live GPS tracking.

“The support that Google provides has been critical to our growth, from sponsorships to competitions to developer workshops. Google Cloud Platform provides us with rich functionality that allows us to easily add new features to our product and potentially save lives.”

Jayanthi Narasimhan, Founder and CEO, WatchRx

“Google Cloud Platform gives us the scalability, performance, and security we need to improve medication adherence on a large scale, helping to reduce the $290 billion that is wasted every year,” says Jayanthi.

WatchRx won the first Boston Scientific Connected Patient Challenge, sponsored by Google and other healthcare and technology leaders, with a unanimous vote from judges. The award underscored the widespread belief in the power of IoT devices to connect patients with caregivers and benefit the larger healthcare community.

"The support that Google provides has been critical to our growth, from sponsorships to competitions to developer workshops,” says Jayanthi. “Google Cloud Platform provides us with rich functionality that allows us to easily add new features to our product and potentially save lives.”

About WatchRx

WatchRx is an all-in-one smartwatch that reminds the elderly to take their medications on time. The built-in phone allows emergency calling, while GPS provides live tracking of Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. It also helps professional and personal caregivers get alerts and real-time status via a smartphone app.

Industries: Healthcare & Life Sciences, Technology
Location: United States
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