Helping patients in everyday therapy with the digital home pharmacy

Katharina Kittelberger

Startup Stories

For patients, it is often challenging to follow the agreements made with doctors and implement the necessary adjustments to their habits accordingly. With the innovative app from our network startup Ligari, founded in 2016, this problem now belongs to the past. Because thanks to this app, patients can easily and conveniently map their medications and therapy processes in a digital home pharmacy.   

Simon Pfannemüller, CEO, explains the concept: "Our goal is to provide patients with the best possible support in managing their daily therapy routine, to explain specialist medical information in a comprehensible way, and thus to promote compliance and adherence in the long term." 

Simon Pfannemüller, CEO of Ligari

Five years after its founding, Ligari has reached the point where its initial vision has been successfully realized. In an interview with 5-HT, Simon provides exciting insights into their development so far, what opportunities he sees in the cooperation with 5-HT, and why the future will continue to be exciting for Ligari.  

The importance of therapy management and support 

The realization that the topics of therapy management and support are enormously helpful and correspondingly important for patients primarily ensured that Ligari wanted to shift away from mere home pharmacy management. Simon describes exactly how: "Our digital home pharmacy supports all those patients who take many medications or have to follow many therapies in structuring their daily therapy routine better and managing it more easily."

Ligari – the digital home pharmacy 

Although the focus is primarily on organizing the medications to be taken, the app also has other functionalities that are important for everyday therapy: "For example, patients can store the contact data of the doctors treating them at any given time or enter doctor's appointments, which the app reminds them of on time."

There are virtually no obstacles standing between the user and the app. In concrete terms, this means that the app is available free of charge on all common platforms and patients do not have to register to use it. Since all directly personal data is encrypted and processed only on the device, this allows anonymous use. This low obstacle will make it possible to overcome central problems in the future that already start with a classic package insert. Simon knows, "Many facts are written down on this. But only a few people understand the exact meaning of it." Ligari wants to make this more comprehensible.

Non-adherence: a major challenge for all parties involved

Non-adherence describes the difficulty of patients to follow a doctor's instructions and, according to Simon, "remains a central issue in healthcare. If patients, due to a lack of accurate information about the use or mode of action, do not adhere to an agreed-upon therapy, it leads to all sorts of problems in all sorts of areas."

WHO estimates that just one year after starting therapy, only 50 percent of all patients even take the medications prescribed to them.

Unlike current home pharmacy management, Ligari can eliminate this problem altogether. "After all, a medication can only work optimally if it is taken correctly. To ensure this, we provide various formats of patient-oriented information transfer. These include, for example, animations or videos with which we familiarize patients with their respective therapy, explain exactly what it is used for and how it is implemented correctly. After all, acceptance of one's own therapy can only be increased through understanding," explains Simon. Although these formats are currently only offered for selected preparations, a comprehensive expansion of this patient-oriented information transfer is already being planned.

  With the medication plan from Ligari, all medications are clearly arranged and always at hand in one app. This can also be shown at doctor's appointments.

This means that questions such as "When did I take medication XY?", "What do I currently have in stock?", or "What is the background to my therapy?" will no longer remain unanswered. "In summary, together with the companies we work with, we want to bring patients closer to their therapy."  

Not only patients benefit from the Ligari app   

"Of course, product manufacturers also have an interest in ensuring that patients take their medications correctly. That's why we enable manufacturers to communicate directly with their patients within the framework of legal requirements as well as the major trend of "patient centricity." In addition, the role of physicians is also crucial, as they quickly get an overview through the patient's medication plan," Simon explains. "On the technical side, we would also like to involve them more in the future," he adds. 

Currently, Ligari is working with some of the industry's leading pharmaceutical companies on related prescription drug projects. Because the app covers almost all areas of the user's daily therapy routine, almost all companies active in the healthcare sector are also of interest to the startup.

Clarity even when the doctor is not present

In principle, the doctor is still the focal point of therapy - and Ligari does not want to replace him in any way. Rather, the app is intended to update what has been discussed after the doctor's appointment: "Precisely when the patient is at home and no longer has the doctor physically at his side - this is precisely the step in the therapy where we want to provide clarity," Simon emphasizes. 

He uses the following example to explain the technology behind a typical usage situation: "Generally, a pharmaceutical central code (PZN code) is printed on every medication package. Now that the patient has received his medication at the pharmacy, he can scan it in the app and our database automatically generates and stores the relevant information about the medication - which means that the patient no longer has to do it manually. Of course, he can also add aspects himself and, for example, specify the expiration date, make notes or, in the case of a medication used in the family such as aspirin, specify who has taken how much."

Future outlook: Plans and opportunities from working with 5-HT

"User feedback is very valuable to us, which is why we are basing our further development primarily on it. Currently, functionalities have been integrated based on user requests, such as the saving of the vaccination passport in the app. In the future, however, we would like to expand our platform to include specialized areas, such as diabetes. In this context, we hope to be able to continue to attract partners so that we can jointly drive forward further interesting projects." 

For Ligari, COVID-19 was an opportunity because it put a stronger focus on digital information sharing in general.

In particular, Simon hopes that the cooperation with 5-HT "will enable us to participate in your network. This does not only mean making interesting contacts or receiving suitable information, but also the possible cooperation with network members. Furthermore, we attach great importance to experience in this area. Because of our previous self-financing, we have so far given little thought to the creation of a pitch deck, or how best to introduce ourselves to an investor. 

Here it is interesting for us to be able to fall back on your expertise," he summarizes.

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