Co-founders Jeff DeVico and Patrick DePippo discuss their app, ReachRX, which aspires to transform the dermatology and medical landscape through streamlined access to pharmaceutical information.
ReachRX is an artificial intelligence (AI)- powered clinical search engine backed by ChatGPT. It provides an efficient interface to access clinical information where providers and patients can ask questions on products, disease states, and on and off- label uses and receive up-to-date data that is properly-sourced and verifiable.
To check out ReachRX, visit www.reachrx.ai.
Co-founders Jeff DeVico and Patrick DePippo spoke with Dermatology Times® to discuss the origins of ReachRX and their hopes for the platform's impact on the dermatology space.
"There's been a ton of innovation coming to the dermatology space for the past couple of years," DePippo said. "The one thing that doctors have the least of is time, so we just want to make sure that they have access to that innovation and are able to get it to their patients in an effective manner."
Jeff DeVico: Hi, I'm Jeff DeVico, co-founder and CEO of ReachRX.
Patrick DePippo: I'm Patrick DePippo, co-founder and CTO.
Dermatology Times: What are the mission, goal, and story behind ReachRX?
DeVico: Our mission is to empower practices with the necessary resources to get their patients the best treatments possible.
The question we get a lot is: Why dermatology? And I'll take you back to high school. So I actually struggled pretty intensely with acne for years, and obviously, those are pretty formative years, and I remember spending a lot of time and money running around to CVS and Walgreens trying out all different lotions, and potions, and creams, trying to help treat it. And I finally went to my dermatologist senior year who put me on Accutane, and that's obviously a pretty intense product: comes with the struggles, but it works like a charm. And after that year, I was so thankful for him, his staff, and all the support that they gave me that year. I was texting him, texting is his office manager, just looking for help. I was getting liver tests every couple of weeks. It was a lot, especially in high school.
So flash forward to post-college. I was looking for a job, and an opportunity in pharmaceutical sales came up, and given my history as a patient and knowing all the struggles that I went through, I really wanted to pay it forward in any way that I could to other patients or people that were struggling.
And so I was actually fortunate enough to work for companies and specialties that gave me direct access to patients, which is super, super rare as a drug rep. My first job, I was working in bariatrics, and I was speaking with patients at support groups, and pre-surgical meetings, and really seeing firsthand along the way, the patient journey and all the struggles they go through. And there were people there that were on my product, and people interested in the product, and having that environment where patients are conversing back and forth about what works, what doesn't work. It was just a really, really powerful moment to always be in, and it was just a constant reminder and inspiration as to why I did what I did every day in that job.
A few years later at the same company, I really had an 'aha moment' that led us here when I was working in orthopedics in Manhattan, and at this point in time, I was selling a life-changing medication that gave people the use of their hands back again. Imagine not be able to do your hair or brush your teeth in the morning. Small things like that, that some people take for granted.
Given the restricted access to physicians and practices even before COVID, I was finding myself becoming best friends with security guards at major hospitals and then having to sneak me in through loading docks to try getting time with practices and physicians and educate them on my product. Finally, one day, I'm actually in a procedure with a famous pianist who has not been able to use his hands in 20 years. The surgeon comes in, does the procedures, and after the second one, I'm sitting there with the patient, his wife, the surgeon, a bunch of nurses; a lot going on in one little group. I can see he's starting to cry a little bit, getting a little emotional, and I thought it was due to the pain. But then he looked up at me and started crying even more and thanking me. Out of all the people, thanking me, for everything that I've done. And I'm not going to lie, I got a little emotional, too. Pretty powerful moment, and it really hit me like afterwards that every patient should feel the way that like man felt in that moment. I kept asking myself: imagine if it didn't take so long to get him treated. How many other patients could get treated if I didn't have to leap through hospital loading docks and that be the way that life-changing medications and resources get to patients?
Obviously, there's so much value in that, and I knew there's so much value in what pharmaceutical companies bring, and what reps bring, every day. But there ultimately really is a better way to do it. As you know, physicians, staff, are all so busy every single day that the old way of doing things, of just showing up unannounced or just popping in not at the right time and maybe not with the right information, ultimately, patients are the ones that can lose out on that, and lose out on the benefits and medication.
From there, the mission really became: How do we get patients the best treatments as effectively as possible? And we truly believe that it really comes down to modernizing the way manufacturers communicate with their customers and other practices. So I had the idea. I was like, 'How do we actually do this now? So I called Pat. Pat and I had been friends for a couple years at this point, and I was like, 'Hey, I need a full stack developer. Do you know anybody?' And he was like, 'Yeah, it's me.' I was like, 'Oh, well, I got this killer idea.'
DePippo: When Jeff came to me over COVID, he was kind of giving me some background on what he did and why he thought there was obviously some issues with it. So as we were kind of workshopping the idea, one of the drugs he'd sold about 5 years prior got a new indication. So all of a sudden, he was getting 10 calls a day from doctors he hadn't sold to in 5-plus years, looking for more information on the drug. And that was when it really clicked to me that practices and physicians need this information; they just don't know how to get it.
V1 of our product became a platform for practices to find their rep and message their rep so they can close that loop, and that was obviously really tough during COVID when reps weren't allowed in the practices at all. As COVID started to subside and reps were allowed back into the practices, went back to first principles and wanted to identify why practices need this relationship with reps, what's the information they're responsible for bringing to them? And what we found was, there's a combination of clinical, financial, coverage pull through, all these different things. Reps will kind of have to show up, they'll leave brochures, they'll like be looking for seconds of doctors' time in a hallway. We thought it was a really exciting opportunity to digitize that.
So that led us to our current iteration of our product. So our current platform is an AI-powered clinical search engine backed by ChatGPT. We provide an efficient interface to access clinical information. You can ask questions on products, disease states, on and off- label uses. And we give you up-to-date data that is properly-sourced and verifiable. And not only that: Once you've identified a treatment, we allow you to access the right pharmaceutical resources to get your patients treated, whether that's samples; again, so connecting with a rep, patient support documents enrollment forms, financial assistance programs and things like that.
Dermatology Times: How can ReachRX help dermatologists and their patients moving forward?
DePippo: So the main way we help dermatologists is by 1: saving them tons of time in accessing this information. They don't have to try to memorize things that reps leave them with when they come in the door. They don't have to go through brochures; you can really just find everything in one place. And what that does, and how that helps patients, is by arming providers with the most relevant and up-to-date information, we make sure they're truly getting the best treatment as cheaply and as quickly as possible.
Dermatology Times: How do you hope ReachRX will shape the field of dermatology moving forward?
DeVico: Overall, dovetailing off of what Pat's been saying, we want to really fulfill the mission, where a physician, PA, NP, comes to our app and is able to search for a product, look at the new indication, and be able to just find that right away, and ultimately, get that patient treated right away. That's how we know we've done our jobs, where there's a place where all these physicians can go and that rate of patient treatment along that journey is shortened; prior authorization time could potentially go down. If a practice is out of samples, a patient needs to be held over before insurance covers it. We want to make sure that the practice has everything they need to ultimately make sure that patient gets on therapy faster. So to us, when that happens, that's when we know we've done our jobs.
DePippo: And I think we really have the opportunity, again, to drive patient outcomes and make sure more patients are treated by making sure that this access to pharmaceutical information and resources is as streamlined and as easy as possible.
Dermatology Times: What would you like dermatologists, NPs, and PAs to know about ReachRX?
DeVico: We just want to make sure that they know that there is a platform they can go to, that is the one place where they could find everything. A lot of our practices, the comments that they make is, 'We have this one place for all these pharmaceutical resources versus having to go online trying to find a rep or having to go through stacks of business cards to find some reps.' And knowing who your FRM is, knowing who your MSL is, we're able to kind of put everybody all in one place, where everybody in a practice, and that efficiency and that ease is what really has an appeal to our practice clients for the last couple of years.
DePippo: There's been a ton of innovation coming to the dermatology space for the past couple of years. The one thing that doctors have the least of is time, so we just want to make sure that they have access to that innovation and are able to get it to their patients in an effective manner.
[This transcript has been edited for clarity.]