Fast Company: Prescription Bottles Can Be Incredibly Hard to Read. So This App Does It for You.

Fast Company: Prescription Bottles Can Be Incredibly Hard to Read. So This App Does It for You.

We are syndicating the original article by Sarah Lynch from Fast Company.

CVS Pharmacy, Identiv, and the American Council of the Blind joined forces to help people with visual impairments access their prescription information.

Accessing prescription medication can present a minefield for people with visual impairments. Often, patients need a separate device to read prescriptions, or they rely on memory to follow a pharmacist’s instructions. (Pill bottles are too small for braille.)

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) and CVS Pharmacy worked with digital-security company Identiv to create an elegant solution. The new Spoken Rx program allows customers to open the CVS app (using Siri or Google Assistant), scan an RFID sticker on their prescription bottles, and hear a recitation of the label’s most crucial components.

CVS Spoken Rx

While at-home label readers already exist, Spoken Rx stands apart as an in-app feature for one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country. Kim Charlson, a former president of the ACB, calls this a huge step. “I just think it’s great to include accessibility right in with all the services that they provide for everyone,” Charlson says. This service is the winner in the Packaging category of Fast Company‘s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards.

The ACB first approached CVS in 2016 about the need for accessible prescription information on drug labels. The council weighed in on the most crucial components, including medication names, directions, warnings, and pharmacy information. Identiv then supplied the RFID stickers, which users can scan with their smartphone to access all the information.

The Spoken Rx program rolled out to 1,700 locations in 2020 and was available nationwide in July 2021. Spoken Rx is now available in English and Spanish at all CVS stores, with no additional cost to users. More than 2,100 patients have enrolled in the program.

“In your life as a blind person, you’ve often had to go through life carrying around extra things and make the world more accessible to you. And so being able to just have a phone and to know what’s going on is pretty cool,” says Eric Bridges, executive director of the ACB.

But the ACB made clear that customers without a smartphone needed a way to access the program, too, says Jared Tancrelle, senior vice president of retail operations at CVS. “So we made sure that patients are able to receive one stand-alone reader at no cost if needed.”

By connecting prescription packaging to an in-app feature, Spoken Rx fills a need that Bridges says will be increasingly important as more and more people experience vision loss. For Bridges, this strikes at the heart of medical independence and privacy issues for the community. “The only way that we are able to take back our health is by knowing all of our data,” says Bridges, “and part of that data is our medications.”

This story is part of Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards. Explore the full list of companies creating products, reimagining spaces, and working to design a better world.