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How You Can Make a Difference in The World Just By Taking Your Medicine with Claus Moldrup, Founder/CEO at DrugStars
Episode 157

Claus Moldrup, Founder/CEO at DrugStars

How You Can Make a Difference in The World Just By Taking Your Medicine

Improving healthcare by creating ap that reminds people to manage, track progress, and learn about medication

How You Can Make a Difference in The World Just By Taking Your Medicine with Claus Moldrup, Founder/CEO at DrugStars

Episode 157

How You Can Make a Difference in The World Just By Taking Your Medicine with Claus Moldrup, Founder/CEO at DrugStars

Thanks for tuning in to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we chat with today’s most successful and inspiring health leaders. I want to personally invite you to our first inaugural Healthcare Thinkathon. It’s a conference that the Outcomes Rocket and the IU Center for Health Innovation and Implementation Sciences has teamed up on. We’re going to put together silo crushing practices just like we do here on the podcast except it’s going to be live with inspiring keynotes and panelists. To set the tone, we’re conducting a meeting where you can be part of drafting the blueprint for the future of healthcare. That’s right. You could be a founding member of this group of talented industry and practitioner leaders. Join me and 200 other inspiring health leaders for the first Inaugural Healthcare Thinkathon. It’s an event that you’re not going to want to miss. And since there’s only 200 tickets available you’re going to want to act soon. So how do you learn more? Just go to outcomesrocket.health/conference. For more details on how to attend that’s outcomesrocket.health/conference and you’ll be able to get all the info that you need on this amazing health care thinkathon. That’s outcomesrocket.health/conference.

Welcome back once again to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we chat with today’s most successful and inspiring health leaders. I really want to welcome you to go to outcomesrocket.health/reviews to rate and review today’s podcast because today we have an outstanding guest. His name is Claus Moldrup. He is a Ph.D. ex. professor that decided to get into the health business and is now the CEO and Founder at DrugStars. They’re really doing an amazing job. It’s a patient movement application on both iOS and Android and they’re all about giving by taking. And so they want to just be part of this movement and also invite you the listener to learn a little bit more. And so Claus has a really great background and not only as a professor but he was also spent some time at AbbVie the as the commercial director and in the executive management team. So his experience in both academia as well as the commercial world of health will really provide some good insights here. And what they’re doing in the company but also what we talk about today so Claus, I want to give you a warm welcome my friend.

Thank you and thank you for having me.

So maybe I missed something here in the introduction that you want to share with the listeners anything you want to share.

Well I think you’ve covered it very well. I think it’s been like 3 careers in my life. I started out as you said in academia pursuing becoming a professor. My goal was to become the youngest professor in Copenhagen, Denmark. I didn’t succeed and that I was number two really but that’s good enough. And then when I was like bored of doing that I was asked by AbbVie to actually to develop patient support program for Humira which is one of the biggest brocks in the war and that was fun and interesting learning. And then two years ago I quit that job to become the CEO of DrugStars. And the interesting thing is actually when you look at that is that combining stuff from being academia you know building up a research facility and then having the big pharma commercial card on top of that that is maybe the best education you can have to get into startups because then you get both the very professional stuff from the big pharma thing but you also get from the research part of it where you buy going from one failure to another. You get that under your skin as well which is like very important in startups. So I think that’s the best education you can have at the start up.

Man you have such a unique background, Claus and you know it’s interesting too that you’re you a big conglomerate academia as well and now you’re touching the startup world. You definitely keep changing it up. What do you think is something that needs to be on every health leader’s agenda today and how are you guys at Drugstars addressing that?

Well I think that one of the things we we are actually missing and that’s from a lot of stakeholders within healthcare is to get the most out of the technologies we already have. I mean we are extremely focusing on building new technologies new medical devices new getting you know new drugs on the market. It’s like a technical fix for us. And I think basically we don’t get the most out of what we have already. Let’s say we’re getting a new drug on the market and it’s like let’s say 10 percent better than the one that’s already on the market and it’s like first choice in treatment. Again what would that change if patients don’t take the medicines anyway. What we see is there’s a huge huge change when you have the clinical trials you see the effect is effectiveness and then when it’s in the market people are not taking the right way and it’s like elude it. So you can come up with a new fantastic drug which is a few percent is better than the existing one but in the end you might not even see any change in the treatment outcome. And I think that’s one of the things that we should really be focusing on.

I think that’s a really great call out, Claus and it’s true a lot of the things that we do in health are really incremental innovations when a lot of the exponential growth could come from process and adoption improvement.

Yeah. Yeah. And of course there was the whole idea about DrugStars is how could we leverage on the fact that 40 percent of our medicines taken worldwide are not taking world wide as recommended by the doctors and pharmacists.

40% huh?

40 percent. That’s a lot. Yeah I mean it’s not 40 percent of the patients. I mean we all forget when we take medicine. So all of us. So it’s an accurate level. 40 percent of all the medicines and basically across all diseases and therapies. So that’s really something to improve here. The cost to society is huge. The cost for hospitalizations the cost of quality of life to the patients and in the end also of course the revenue loss in big pharma is enormous. So there’s a lot to gain for everyone.

Absolutely. So you know it just curiosity is high here, Claus. What is it that you made you decide to get in the medical field?

Well it was very opportunistic ,to be honest. I was actually more interested in the history of arts and I would like to introduce theorems and look at other stuff. But then my parents told me while there’s no jobs in that area and I said OK let’s let’s find that. Actually you look into you know the curriculums and say OK where can you when you’re done with your know masters where could you get the most priority of different jobs. And then in Denmark it’s a pharmacist is actually doing a lot both with the Indian public pharmacy both within authorities a lot within pharma of course. So I thought OK I don’t have to decide what’s which way to go. Now let’s get that degree and see what happens.

Nice. So it was it was more of a practical drive that.


Lead to.. very nice. That’s good. Yeah you know so my background my education was in classical humanities and my parents were the same. Like what are you going to do with the history. But I loved it. It was fun. And in the process I got into it just through health experiences that happened to me. But at the end of the day, we’re here Claus and so now we take our diverse backgrounds and we and we do something with it, right.

Exactly yeah.

Give us an example of how DrugStars is already improving health outcomes.

When people are improving on taking their medicines. That’s of course is doing something. And when I was looking into this field there were like I think maybe a thousand different inheritance tools in app stores. So in that case if it’s just a reminder tool to remind people to take medicine we are not unique in any way but that’s basically just the pot of drugstores that is giving something to the individual patient. The thing with drug stores is that you earn stars by taking your wages and these stocks you can donate those to charities, those charities ofcourse and we will convert it to real money and already within one year we have donated more than 90,000 US dollars just based on patients being active on our behalf. Of course are not. They don’t give any money themselves it’s us out of our pockets and of course that is our unique proposition that we are not only a remembering tool to remember of medicine and hopefully get a bit of treatment by doing that. But on top of that we are also contributing to the patient organisations, the NGOs, the nonprofits, that they can actually improve with in different diseases as well.

Got it. That’s pretty cool right. So you’re a patient and you’re you’re taking your medication not only are you helping yourself but you’re helping others. I think a lot of people I think especially you find this out when you become a parent you willing to do more for others than yourself sometimes.

True and of course we have drug stores is based on you know a lot of thinking about of course psychology but also on gamification and one of the most rewarding things to do is actually to give something to other.It is a lot more rewarding and is provoking a lot more things in your mind than having that say a free coupon to stop. I mean it’s a lot more rewarding and people are getting back so are retentions stuff is better when you are actually giving something for charity. I remember one of the reviews on iTunes was a mom writing thank you for a fantastic app. I’m using it together with my daughter who’s eight years old and we can have like a lot of discussions on which charities we should donate for every time just for the interest. How can we change something just by doing that. So that is creating something which is, there’s a lot of energy in there.

Now that’s pretty cool. So I have to ask Claus, because I know that the listeners are wondering if you guys donate and so tell me about the financial model here and how this works.

Basically we we can get sponsorships so we can have sponsorships from other foundations or from pharma companies, insurance companies, and they have no influence on where the money go. They can say OK we want to sponsor all diabetes patients and you’re good then you can do that but you cannot just sponsor your own product. You need to sponsor the competitor’s products as well so they put in let’s say a hundred quid into our sponsorships and then they distribute it among those who are then getting stars within diabetes and then the diabetes patient can choose to either give it to like diabetes foundation or if they want to give it to like heart diseases or whatever. I mean then they can decide doing that and the and sponsor have no influence on where the money go. So in that way they are surely sponsors with the hands-off. Which is very important for us.

That’s really cool and very clear on how that’s done. So would you consider your company a non-profit.

We actually because we are based out of Denmark and here we are a profit company but we are actually now because we now entered the U.S. and the U.K. and we see ourselves being asked that question a lot and we are actually going into filing an application for 5O0 0 non-profit registration.

Got it.

For that part of the company.

Very cool. So you’ll be a final Nc3 you’ll be doing these things that are very much in line with those types of organizations. And the nice thing here. It’s pretty cool listeners. They have Classen his team has a really clear visual of what a patient does when they’re on the drugstores app. If you go to drugstars.com you’ll see the patient journey and it’s pretty sweet. And you know the nice thing is that you get to choose do you get to choose where you put the money. So not only do you benefit yourself you benefit others and you get to decide where it goes.

And right now when you used in the U.S. you will see that there is like generic patient organization so you can decide to donate to diabetes area or the health hot area. And that is because we are finalizing. We went with the patient organizations in the U.S.. Now it’s free for the organizations to be a part of the app. The only thing they need to provide us with is a picture or a logo and some small piece of text that describe what they do. And then the straight agree to get money from us. So it’s pretty straightforward. And when let’s say fabulous it could be a try for another diabetes foundation is entering the app then they are taking over that more generic description in the app. So already now when you sponsor giving your stars to diabetes it will go to that patient organization who will finally sign up for that area.

That’s great. Now, Claus – what’s your vision for this? You know at the end of the road what does this look like.

Put the mission to become the biggest patient movement in the world. Not as a political movement we also across all kinds of diseases so we don’t have any focus on a specific disease but we really like patients wars to be here and the development of the decisions within the development of new drugs. So let’s say we in the future have like say 5 million users of growth. And these users are reviewing different drugs because you can review drugs in our app then that review will become a central part of payer’s understanding of what should they actually pay for and where they should not go. It could be like it’s basically like a trust pilot for medicines. If you are if you’re a payer, first of all you look at the clinical trials. Yes and then if there is too competitive drugs which are equally as good and the price is the same. Let’s say in the future they go to the DrugStar application and they see that one of them is actually having a much higher score than the other one among the users. The likelihood that these patients actually will take that drug better and more consistent is quite high compared to the one which has a low rating from the user and then they will probably go for the one which have the the people’s voice behind them. That’s the main idea of that.

That makes a lot of sense. I love the vision and as you put together the platform these patient reviews visible to other patients or is it more back-end to payers and…

It’s back-end. I mean you know we don’t want in that sense to like make a ranking of drugs. It’s not that just because you have this particular whatever experience and attitude towards the specific drug that should not have a huge impact on another one. I mean we all are different we all react different to different drugs and we should take that into account as well. So it will never be like advice of drugs.

Got it. It’s more of of you get rewarded and you get to continue feeling good about what you’re doing and at the back-end and there’s the engine that would help fuel feedback for the drug companies.


Got it. It makes a lot of sense. Give us an example Claus where you have had a setback or a failure and what you learned from that failure.

Oh there’s been a lot of that.

That’s entrepreneur, right? The life of entrepreneur.

Well, actually in this case I’d actually like to go a little back to the first study I did within health or mobile health. Yeah. I think it was back in 2005 or so at that time we didn’t have any smartphones but we had text messaging and I thought that OK if we can increase adherence by doing text messaging that would be an awesome thing to do though it did run a clinical trial with a control group and of course an intervention group within asthmatic treatment. So they were reminded to take their medication. There are you know there prevention inhalators every morning and their result was very interesting. We actually showed that we increased adherence which was a good thing. And we also asked how often they went to the doctor and hospital and the intervention group which had a better adherence than the control group starting go more often to the doctors and hospital. So that was not really the outcome we expected.

That’s interesting.

And it turned out that there were more regular on the medication. But at the same time they were more regulate on doing it the wrong way because the inhalation technique was bad. So increasing adherence is not always a positive outcome. And I think that was a very interesting learning because when you look into literature or whatever you’re saying OK better adherence we get a better outcome but that’s not always true adherence is more complicated than just timing. It’s also how the quality around how you actually manage your medication.

Yeah. Because as a binary character but it also has a qualitative character too.

Exactly. Exactly. And a lot of cases people miss the quality and just looking at the numbers.

That is super interesting listeners think about that and there might be some assumptions that we’re making and Claus shared one of his has set back moments. To us what can we learn from this. You know and when you think you have something right dive a little bit deeper and think about the qualitative measures of what you’re doing or what some of the results that you’re looking for that’s really great share, thank you Claus.


What would you say one of your proudest medical leadership moments to date is?

Before us started drugstores authority was some of the publications I’ve done. And you know very very egocentric very focusing on my own merits. I think that the first time I went out you know with the first donations to one of these very small patient organization it was a incision for cystic fibrosis which is a horrible disease and it’s luckily only a few patients people get it. I think in Denmark alone we have like 500 patients but they take a lot of meds and when I was standing there in front of one of those patients and with their you know the leadership from that organization and handing out quite substantial amount of money compared to our companies and that small organization, I really feel proud because this was not only money or something. This was based on other patients having activities around that disease generating some funds for their organization. And I really thought that was beautiful. So yeah that actually made me feel very proud.

That’s awesome man. That’s fantastic. And what would you say today is one of your exciting project or focus areas within your company.

From the very beginning we’ve had this questionnaire six questions in the app which is what we call medical experience and attitude index which is the one where you rate your medicine. And now we’re starting to put that more into AI. So we can actually predict when people are dropping out of the treatment before they know themselves. And I think that’s going to be game changer in a lot of ways because suddenly we can give feedback to patients saying that OK with these answers on these six questions we can actually tell you. And also based on your activities and the app and so on. We can actually tell you that you might be at risk of dropping out through treatment within the next let’s say 30 days. If you’re not aware of that, you should definitely start to think about it and maybe even have a discussion with your doctor on why is that happening. I think that is something which we upfront can because when people are just dropping out of that treatment you know suddenly they go to the doctor and the doctor asked: Did you take your medicine? Yeah, I did. And then they will have none of the medication because the outcome was not good on the first one. Then it’s starting all over again and it’s not really taking the aspect of why they actually fail on the first one. I think that would be important.

Well super interesting that you’re doing this Clouse and it sounds that you’ve definitely been passionate about the medication and here in space since very early and I’m excited to see how this thing takes off and just you know the new things that you guys do with the new AI engine for it.


So let’s pretend you and I are building a medical leadership course on what it takes to be successful in medicine. The 101 at the ABCs of Claus Moldrup. So everybody is going to have to take this course if they want to do well in medicine. We’ve got a syllabus here lightning round style so I got four questions for you that will just answer. Followed a book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready.


Awesome. What’s the best way to improve health outcomes.

I think you should have smaller projects that can fail fast rather than big ones. Just failing as well but not fast.

Love it. What is the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Using the word project. Because when people love doing projects it’s always something that is the word itself as long in some way. And I think in our company we’re not allowed to use the word project because it’s basically something that you can buy from doing a project because it takes too long.

Don’t use the word project. How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

I think you should always listen. Every time someone is addressing something to your product or service or whatever it’s important to take it into account that the rest in the future a way that you work around that area.

What is one area of focus that should drive everything in a health organization.

I think it should be the patients experience of your service.

And what book would you recommend to the listeners?

I’m actually not reading books to be honest.


And I actually also when I was a professor at the University or was bragging that I haven’t read full paper, not even my own. I’m too impatient to do it.

What about audio books?

I listen to a lot of audiobooks and actually all the members of our company have a subscription to Blender’s. Which is like a service where you get an abstract of a book in 15 minutes. So it’s audio and they are reading are the main outcomes of what they think is the most important offer of a book. It’s you know it’s…

What is it called, Claus?

It’s an app on the internet and I think it’s a German.

How do you spell it?

B L I K I S T. I think something like that. Yeah I can give it to the show notes.

Yeah that would be awesome. It sounds really good. Is it available in all languages.

Yeah it is.

Awesome. Sounds great. And the descriptions are audio too.

Yeah it’s only audio. You can read them as well but it’s only 50 minutes and it’s small blinks out of text then they you know walk through all the main parts of the group which is like frantastic because usually there is a lot of stuff you can skip.


Not in novels and stuff like that but more and you know business books and so there’s a whole section for startups as well.

Beautiful listeners classes provided some really great things here and on this syllabus. Everything that we discussed as well is a blinkist and and all the things he’s up to at drugstores. You could find those at outcomesrocket.health/claus. C L A US you’ll find everything on there so don’t worry about writing it down. Claus, we’ve gotten here to the end my friend. I love if you could just share a closing thought and then the best place where the listeners could get in touch with you or follow you.

Yeah well you can always like go to our website and write to the info at DrugStars.com It’s actually going direct into my email. I think that’s one of the way that I listen to all of our users is that when people are contacting us, I’m the first one to get it so it’s not just directed to someone in customer or whatever. It’s actually going to. So that’s the way I listen. I think one of the things that I’ve been focusing on a lot on the last few months is that when you are in this space where you gave me fine stuff we always the metrics that investors and stuff use for how successful we are is how long people are staying on our app and the retention rate and the engagement rates and all that kind of stuff. And when you’re doing gamification it’s all about grabbing people’s attention and I actually think when you’re looking at the app landscape across all kinds of categories everyone wants to have your attention. So it’s an attention game for apps like ours and to be honest I really don’t like that. I think attention is a very valuable thing for a person when you are looking into your screen you’re not looking into the eyes of your family. So one of the things that are really looking into is that when you are asking for the attention of users, you should only ask only for the amount of time that is needed for people to do exactly what they should do in your app and nothing more than that and then they should close the phone and look at their family.

That’s a great insight. And so with that my friends, Claus always leaves us with some really great things to think about. Claus, I really want to express our gratitude for you to spending your time with us today especially at the wee hours of the night over there in Denmark, shows your dedication.

Thank you thank you for having me.

It’s a pleasure my friend.

Thanks for tuning into the outcomes rocket podcast if you want the show notes, inspiration, transcripts and everything that we talked about on this episode. Just go to outcomesrocket.health. And again don’t forget to check out the amazing Healthcare Thinkathon where we could get together took form the blueprint for the future of healthcare. You can find more information on that and how to get involved in our theme which is implementation is innovation. Just go to outcomesrocket.health/conference that’s outcomesrocket.health/conference be one of the 200 that will participate. Looking forward to seeing you there.

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