Prescription technology MedRunner gets $100,000 boost

Prescription technology MedRunner gets $100,000 boost

By Quentin Casey – The Telegraph Journal | Link to original article

Todd Murphy doesn't try to hide the lofty objective behind his Saint John-based startup.

« Our main goal is to completely change the health-care system for the better, » he says.

On Wednesday, Murphy's vision moved a step closer to fruition with a major funding announcement from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF). The venture capital corporation is investing $100,000 in MedRunner, which Murphy started as a MBA student at the University of New Brunswick in 2008.

Created with UNB pal Kevin Garnett, a software engineer, MedRunner has developed technology that allows physicians to send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. The idea is to avoid illegible handwriting and negative drug interactions, which can both lead to adverse health effects and added health care costs.

« We're building a health-care application that can help sustain the health system, » Murphy said in an interview on Wednesday. « We want to help cut costs and make sure our province can support our health care system. »

Murphy, the company CEO, says the software has been tested with physicians over the past year in various New Brunswick pilot projects. Next month, the technology will go « live, » meaning it will be used for transmitting actual prescriptions from doctors' offices to pharmacies.

The goal is to first roll out the software in Atlantic Canada, and by next year, distribute the technology across Canada.

Murphy says MedRunner technology will be provided free to doctors, but won't say how the company plans to make money from the venture.

In addition to the $100,000 from NBIF, MedRunner has received $75,000 from private investors and $125,000 from the First Angel Network Association, an Atlantic Canadian not-for-profit venture capital group.

According to Murphy, Canadian pharmacists dispense 450 million paper-based drug prescriptions each year. In the United States, that number is 3.5 billion. Translation: there's a large market for MedRunner's services.

« It should make life easier for pharmacies, for physicians and for patients. That's the hope, » said Ryan Kennedy, a Saint John pharmacist, who has offered advice during MedRunner's development.

« I think the technology has the ability to do a lot of good. It just depends on the extent to which the prescribing community chooses to use it. »

Murphy says the key has been in consulting with doctors from the very beginning – even when back at UNB.

« We approached a group of physicians and we asked them: what problems can we help you solve? They said prescriptions were the biggest hurdle, » he said. Over the past year, the company has sought advice and input from more than 100 doctors, he added.

« As jurisdictions all across Canada and the United States race to make the legislative changes needed to permit electronic prescriptions, the timing of MedRunner's introduction to the marketplace is optimal, » said NBIF president and CEO Calvin Milbury in a release issued Wednesday. « When several investors come to the table it helps to build the credibility the company needs to raise even more capital when it starts to grow. »

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