The Mango Health app home screen

The Mango Health app home screen (Mango Health / April 7, 2013)

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  • Jessica Naziri

“Take 500 milligrams of this medicine every twelve hours in combination with amoxicillin and lansoprazole for 14 days. Don’t forget it should be taken with food, and I will see you in three weeks.”

Ever get a complicated prescription from a doctor? There are apps out there to help you remember to take your medicine. The latest is Mango Health's iPhone app, designed to make managing medications and nutritional supplements easier, safer and maybe even exciting by using games.

“Taking medications correctly and understanding potentially dangerous interactions between drugs, supplements and even foods is challenging,” said Chief Executive Jason Oberfest, who co-founded the company with Gerald Cheong.

Not using medications correctly costs the U.S. Healthcare system $300 billion a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oberfest said he was inspired to create the app by friends and family who had suffered harmful drug interactions.

Like similar apps, the Mango Health app reminds patients when it's time to take their medication and records each dose. It also automatically alerts users to potentially dangerous interactions between medications and supplements or with food and drink. Users can also compare their medication adherence to that of other Mango users.

But it’s the game component that sets the app apart, which Oberfest said motivates people and keeps users engaged with their personal health goals. 

“You can earn points each day that you take your medications safely and on time,” said Oberfest, who comes from a background in social gaming and held positions at MySpace and ngmoco, one of the earliest and largest mobile gaming companies.

Users rack up points for following their doctor’s order and get rewarded with the chance to win gift cards from major brands such as Target (Mango's first brand partner), and options to make donations to leading charities. Oberfest said Mango Health is monetizing the app by serving as a channel to get users into partners’ stores, ultimately connecting global brands with health-oriented consumers. The founders eventually want to partner with insurers, care providers and employers. 

The free app launched Tuesday after a 16-week trial period with 114 users ranging in age from 24 to late 70s. The trial tracked whether regular notifications helped prescription drug takers keep on top of taking their medications every day. According to Oberfest, 93% of users said that they were likely to keep using the app, and 84% said they are likely to recommend the app to friends and family.

The San Francisco based start-up raised $3.1 million in seed funding from First Round Capital, Floodgate, Baseline Ventures, Mark Pincus, Keith Rabois, Ray Rothrock and Bullpen Capital.

Oberfest said the Mango Health app will be released for Android in the future.

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