The new mobile app from LowestMed could be the Travelocity of health care, offering a comparison of drug prices.
A company called LowestMed has launched a mobile app that allows consumers to compare drug prices at their local pharmacy chains.
The app will be a mobile extension of the company's Web resource for comparative drug prices and prescription discount cards.
LowestMed's software uses a mobile phone's GPS feature to locate pharmacies within 10 miles. Consumers can also enter a ZIP code for additional locations.
The mobile tool provides pricing information for drugs sold at retailers such as Krogers, Target, Walgreens and Walmart.
"Most consumers don't realize that prices can vary widely by pharmacy and that up until this point the only way to do price comparisons on a local level was to go to each pharmacy and submit an insurance claim," said Brad Bangerter, CEO of LowestMed.
With the LowestMed app, the company is looking to help both insured and uninsured consumers find the best deal on prescriptions.
"In a time of high health care costs, in which employees must shoulder more of the burden of health care costs each year, our price finder app and free discount card reduces costs on every transaction and ultimately helps consumers save significantly," said Bangerter.
For LowestMed, the goal is for consumers to use the app before they get to the pharmacy. Announced on Jan. 25, the app includes pricing info for more than 1,000 drugs, including proprietary brands and generic drugs. The database incorporates more than 25 percent of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, the company reports.
The app also provides a discount card to allow consumers to save from 10 to 85 percent off prescription retail prices, the company reports. Discount codes could sometimes offer a better price than insurance copays, the company notes.
Bangerter compared the company's app to how Kayak and Travelocity list deals for flights and hotels.
LowestMed is a "one-stop, fast, convenient and easy way for consumers to maximize savings on their medications," he said.
Users can access drug prices for the major pharmacy chains, but for local mom-and-pop pharmacies, they will need to search the full database in a Web version on a PC.
"We're always expanding the pharmacies that we can display easily and would certainly like to continue to do that," Bangerter told eWEEK. "We deliver the major chains because that's frankly where people go."
The price-comparison app complements the several mobile apps that provide drug references on prescriptions, including apps from Epocrates and WebMD.
Epocrates incorporates discount medication lists from pharmacies such as Walgreens in its drug reference applications.
Meanwhile, CVS and Walgreens offer mobile apps that allow customers to order prescriptions online.
With its prescription drug app, LowestMed is looking to help those consumers on high-deductible health plans or those who have no insurance.
LowestMed's current app is focused on consumers, but the company may look to reach employers in the future, said Bangerter.
When patients check out of a doctors' office and a nurse or staffer asks where the person would like their prescription filled, patients can use the app to decide at which pharmacy to fill the prescription.
"You can tell your doctor's office right then and there where you want your prescription filled," said Bangerter.
Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company, FOXNews.com, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents, ScientificAmerican.com, USA Weekend and Womansday.com, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.