'Alexa, order my meds' -- start-up NowRx pioneers prescription refills through Alexa and Google Home

Key Points
  • NowRX developed a skill for its users to order medications through Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
  • The company is expecting to get a green-light to market its application this month.
  • Users in Silicon Valley will have their medication delivered within a few hours.
NowRx will allow you to order prescriptions on Alexa
NowRx will allow you to order prescriptions on Alexa

NowRx wants to make standing in line at the pharmacy a thing of the past.

This month, its users will have the option to order prescription medications via a virtual home assistant, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home. A robot then registers to the request and dispenses the medication within minutes, and a car will deliver it within hours.

The Silicon Valley start-up claims that this is the first voice application for medication ordering.

It works when a user downloads the NowRX skill, and activates it with a voice command ("Alexa, open NowRX'). From there, the skill will prompt the user to request, refill or renew a medication by sharing the last four digits of their prescription number.

The company is still waiting on approval from Google and Amazon, but expects to get a green-light within a few weeks.

NowRX is one of a handful of start-ups that are taking on the brick and mortar pharmacy. Founder Cary Breese said the company is dispensing 125 prescriptions per day from its Mountain View-based retail pharmacy. It targets its marketing to consumers through Facebook ads, who can request that their doctor use NowRX.

Currently, it has 400 Bay Area doctors in its network.

Amazon Alexa is not yet HIPAA compliant, meaning it doesn't meet the federal rules and requirements that are designed to protect patient's sensitive health information. That limits health developers from developing certain kinds of medical apps, which involve health information being shared with hospitals, clinics and their business associates.

But NowRx claims to have a figured out a solution to the problem. Its technology is compliant, the company says, and it doesn't share drug history with Amazon or Google. "It's all encrypted," said Breese.

The company currently serves patients in Silicon Valley, but expects to expand in the coming year.