Picture a bright red plastic box. It hardly looks like a piece of life-changing health-care equipment. And yet this humble-looking container, roughly the size of a banker’s box, is the core component of an ingenious operation that enables a growing number of people to treat or manage a wide range of conditions and diseases.

The architect of the system is the Dispensary of Hope, a 10-year-old social enterprise based in Nashville. It functions much like a food bank, except that the bounty it...

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