In 2017, prescription opioid drugs contributed to more than one third of the country’s opioid overdose deaths, killing 116 people every day and creating an economic burden of $115 billion in that one year.
Though there are opioid prescription tracking databases for doctors and pharmacists, they often live in silos, leaving no immediate way for all parties involved in filling a prescription to have an overview of the entire process.
Tyler Seaberg was completing his biochemistry degree and medical school-bound when he learned about blockchain technology. A registered EMT, Seaberg had already been knocking around ideas for the technology when he heard that his professional football player brother, Ryan, had injured himself.
His brother shared his feeling of shock when, after his surgery, he was given a 30-count prescription of the opioid oxycodone, without any questions or doctor oversight.
“That’s when we started talking to physicians and pharmacists to see if this [database idea] was viable,” said Seaberg.
Thanks to their father’s background as an emergency department physician and dean of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the brothers were able to conduct a national survey of doctors and pharmacists to assess the current prescribing process and how it could be improved with real-time blockchain tracking.
EIRSystems, founded in 2018, is the conclusion of that market research. Their investors call the startup “a Google for controlled substances.”
The blockchain platform tracks a prescription from the doctor’s pad all the way to the patient’s pill bottle through a HIPPA-compliant ledger and proprietary e-prescription.
Doctors can call in a P.A.G.R (Prescription Abuse Greatly Reduced) prescription through the platform, and closely monitor to see the patient’s history of opioid use over time and catch any red flags quickly.
Once the prescription is filled by the pharmacist, the platform runs a consensus protocol to make sure it is within the legal prescribing limits of that state and federal law.
“As soon as they fill that prescription and dispense it to the patient at the point of sale, that entire transaction is getting pasted onto the blockchain-powered ledger and viewable from the government portal,” says CEO Seaberg.
Government oversight entities can see all transactions through the portal and initiate an investigation if needed. It also allows them to more accurately track what’s going on in specific counties and states where controlled substances are a bigger problem.
It brings together all the silos under one roof, Seaberg says.
“Currently each state has a database but it suffers from inefficiencies due to interoperability. It’s very difficult to share data across state borders. How would you know I was a pill thief by running from pharmacy to pharmacy?” he asks.
“We want to integrate that database, the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], and the National Pharmacy Oversight Board into one UI so we can generate alerts for the DEA and they can initiate an investigation,” says Seaberg. This is especially helpful when a doctor is overprescribing without monitoring.
Seaberg also intends for the platform to integrate with existing electronic health record systems to ease integration with the doctor’s workflow.
“We want to make sure that as soon as they are prescribed a medication, all of these alerts pop up in their EHR. This is why we’re going to introduce it at a statewide level first and then work our way down to the physician,” he says.
As a bonus feature for physicians, EIRSystems added an analytics tool that will alert them if there’s a drug-to-drug interaction with an existing medication as soon as a new medicine is prescribed for the patient.
The SaaS platform will be first marketed to state governments. The team is finalizing a necessary DEA certification this month and implementing pilot programs shortly after with six health systems in Ohio and several pharmacies in Tennessee and North Georgia.
The Chattanooga-based startup currently has six employees, including the co-founders. The team has been bootstrapped to this point and will enter fundraising mode through the summer.