S2E3: Andy Burstein – Medication You Can See

In this episode, Marcela Salmon speaks with Andy Burstein, founder of Accessible Pharmacy Services for the Blind, a home delivery pharmacy and health care company.

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In this episode…

In this episode, Marcela Salmon speaks with Andy Burstein, founder of Accessible Pharmacy Services for the Blind, a home delivery pharmacy and health care company. Marcela expresses how excited she is to learn more about how Andy got started with the company, which is the largest, blind-owned healthcare company in the world, and the only provider of its kind.

Andy explains how his business model merges accessibility and health care, and works with individuals on a personal basis providing personalized medication. By working with the individual, identifying specific challenges the company can then assemble a collection of solutions that empower individuals to lead more independent, and ultimately, healthier lives.

Andy shares that he idea of the company started five years ago. At the time, Andy was running a healthcare marketing firm and he wanted to educate his clients on how to be more accessible and how to experience patient growth. Andy explains that he met another cofounder of Accessible Pharmacy, Alex, because their sons both played Little League baseball together. Alex, who is blind due to Retinites Pigmentosa, had earned a PhD; his dissertation focused on accessibility in the American retail space.

Marcela asks how Andy became interested in accessibility to which Andy replies that he has been very aware of the “DEI space.” And that, as a consumer, parent, and member of society, he always tries to be inclusive, especially in the healthcare field. It was important for Andy to be able to answer questions to his clients and staff about ways to be more inclusive.

Alex learned about the Americans with Disabilities Act, and about online accessibility and the inability of individuals to gain access to websites and information. He learned how blindness intersects with online accessibility. Andy explains that for individuals with low vision, screen readers are used to read the content of websites out loud, but not all websites are compatible with the screen readers.

Andy continues, saying that if someone can’t access a website, no matter the tools available to them, what would happen if someone couldn’t read their medication? He then discusses how critical it is for people to be able to read the expiration dates and labeling on prescriptions. They also might not be able to understand the drug interactions or the time of the day, or how many refills are left and so on. While Andy discusses the layers upon layers of challenges, his company is learning every day how they can empower the individual to understand and manage their medication and do it in a way that reduces stress, time, and helps them live healthier lives.

Andy says that then, he and Alex asked themselves the question, what would it be like if they created a pharmacy experience that was tailored towards individuals who are blind?  After getting feedback on their business plan from many blind organizations, such as The National Federation for the Blind, the American Council for the Blind, the AFP, the ACB, The Foundation for Fighting Blindness, they realized there was indeed a real need for this in the marketplace. After a few months researching and learning the pharmacy industry they started to look for a partner who could help them realize the opportunity in the healthcare space, which led to their third business partner, Dr. Jason Becker.

Jason had an existing business model, where he spent the first 25 years of his career focusing on patients with intellectual and cognitive disabilities, who more often than not lived in group homes. He helped his two partners, Andy and Alex, realize they need to focus on the individual. They realized the key was to have a conversation with a patient first. They need to learn as much as possible about them because they have a collection of high tech, low tech and different audio label solutions that can be provided. Once they get the information, the company will reach out to the prescribers to get feedback and then they contact the insurance company to confirm eligibility.

Andy stresses how they also offer a concierge capacity, making the phone calls to the doctors or existing pharmacists on behalf of the patient. They will also be the main contact for the insurance company to confirm eligibility. For patients who are deaf blind, they have those conversations via text, and email.

Their company mission is to eliminate barriers to communication and accessibility. So, they provide free home delivery, all the support and education for free as they make their money by being reimbursed by insurance companies to the patient.

Marcela thanks Andy who then informs the listeners where to get more information.

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