When you’re well, it can be easy to take your health for granted. 

The moment you become ill, however, all you want to do is get better.

Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

Halston Prox and Joshua Darius want to change that.

The two UT Austin graduates have created a service called HealNow that allows people to order medicine and other pharmacy goods through an app.

Never again do you have to trudge through the snow or struggle to get out of bed while feeling ill in order to pick up your prescription. With HealNow, everything you need comes to you.

 Photo: HealNow

Prox and Darius met after pledging the same fraternity, and family is at the company’s center: the two brothers were moved to start HealNow because of Prox’s father.

“A few years ago [my father] was diagnosed with high blood pressure,” Prox told Blavity, “And I saw him come home sometimes with stroke symptoms. And this was because he didn’t take his medicine. And the excuses were varied … it could be he didn’t take it because he didn’t have time to go the pharmacy or they were closed once he got out of work, or he left them at home.” 

No one likes to suffer, and we all like seeing those we love suffering even less. Prox knew there had to be a better way. “I thought to myself, This is a problem that could be solved,” Prox said.

At the time, Prox was working for healthcare technology giant Epic. He was often called to hospitals, and found that there too, people were having trouble physically accessing the medicines they needed. 

Moved by his father’s troubles and the hardship of those he met at his hospitals, Prox quit his job at Epic, and called up Darius, who had become a software developer after graduation.

Darius said that as soon as Prox explained his idea, “I’m like, ‘This is perfect, dude. I already love the business model, and we can help people while we’re at it?’”

Now a team, Prox and Darius got to work. They started HealNow in February 2017, and now the app is live. 

How does it work, exactly?

We’ll let Prox explain.

“HealNow is a marketplace that connects people and healthcare professionals to independent pharmacies, allowing them to order … health products [and have them] delivered … for free within one hour.”

Halston Prax, Photo: HealNow 

Yes, you read that right: HealNow is 100 percent free.

Does that sound too good to be true? Well, Prox explains that HealNow doesn’t charge because they are a marketplace, not a store. Users “order those products, and the pharmacies receive those orders, just like they would with a GrubHub or Seamless, and they deliver them themselves. So we aren’t a delivery system at all; we’re an ordering system that facilitates orders … We see ourselves as the first pharmacy of the cloud, essentially.”

Darius stresses that although HealNow is a lot like Postmates or Seamless, there’s one very important difference.

“When it comes to the pharmacy industry,” Darius said, “This isn’t a just matter of convenience, this isn’t a matter of laziness or something like that: this is someone’s life, this is someone’s health. If they don’t have the means, whatever that may be, whether there’s that disability, whether there’s that you don’t have the time because you’re taking care of your kids, or what, we want to help heal you. For us, it’s let’s heal now, not later, not when you have time later, let’s put this in place to bring health to you if you can’t get to it.”

Prox and Darius hope that they can be advocates for people on both sides of the health equation — they want HealNow to benefit not just patients, but pharmacies as well.

When you order from HealNow, your medicine doesn’t come from a pharmacy giant, but from an independent operation.

The small businesses that make up HealNow’s network “really take care of their communities,” according to Prox. “With Walgreens and CVS buying each other, and acquiring new companies and getting bigger and bigger and stronger, there’s no one really looking out for the smaller entrepreneur, and we believe that they should have the tools necessary to compete and stay relevant.” 

HealNow, the founders hope, will create a positive feedback loop — the apps users get well and in doing so, will help their communities to stay healthy by supporting a local small business.

Besides being focused on health, Prox and Darius are also concerned with wellness, and with preventative care. They hope to help to keep those that do not regularly take medication in good shape with a new series of health kits.

“We got mommy kits coming out, marathon recovery kits, summer kits … hangover kits because why not?” Darius said.

The hangover kit, for instance, will contain all the pills and potions one might need to recover after a fun night out, everything from Advil to Pepto-Bismol to Emergen-C. Users can order kits from HealNow the same way that they would order medication, meaning that even with the most incapacitating headache, help is just an app away. 

With the debate raging in Washington over whether or not healthcare is a right, and with a bill that looks to dismantle Obamacare worming its way through Congress, we couldn’t help but ask the HealNow co-founder what they thought about public health.

Prox said, “You have people who have a lot of money who have better access, cheaper medication. And then you have people who don’t, who really need those type of things. But yet the access is lacking: the medications are expensive, labs are expensive. So when you ball all those things together, you get a really different experience for both individuals. And these are people, right? Everyone needs lower access, lower medications, and really a different model than what we’ve been in before.”

“Public health is … really simple without trying to think about all of the politics that goes with it and everything. We’re talking about people’s lives here,” Darius said. “It’s more so like, This is important now, let’s politically figure out how this is going to work, because we’ve already decided that people’s lives are important.

Indeed they are — and both men are doing all they can to ensure people are able to live their lives to the fullest.

 Photo: HealNow

For now, HealNow is only available in New York City; there are plans to expand to the rest of the country. If you are in New York, download the app to give the service a try.