Preferable prescriptions

A team of University of New Brunswick alumni are working to serve up just what the doctor ordered – literally.

Todd Murphy, left, is the founder of MedRunner, a prescription drug company that houses prescriptions electronically. He is pictured with Kevin Garnett and Steve Breen, who have both been students at UNB Saint John.

Todd Murphy, a recent UNB Saint John MBA graduate, is working hard to launch the company MedRunner, which he founded with computer science student Kevin Garnett and alumni Stephen Breen.

The technology will serve to eliminate paper prescriptions – and the stereotypically messy handwriting that goes with them – in favour of an electronic system available through doctors’ health portals.

The product will ensure accurate prescriptions every time, reduce physician callbacks, improve productivity, and speed up workflow.

“We’re focusing on usability and functionality, and proving an avenue for physicians and pharmacists to have access to a compiled bunch of information that would normally just be based on handwritten notes and computers,” says Murphy. “We put together an application that can condense that all into one interface.”

MedRunner could also save lives, as it can provide the information to get medication if a person happens to be unconscious.

The application will be available on standard computers through physicians’ health portals, but that’s not all – the team is also looking at implementing its use through smartphones for easier, more convenient access.

Finding the gap

Murphy was toying with the idea of starting an e-Health business in December 2008.

“E-Health is a booming industry in its infant stages,” he says. “I wondered about small little niche markets where we could fit in – but there’s a big market in medication and prescriptions.”

Each province has its own health and medical information systems and pharmaceutical vendors, which meant the blooming entrepreneurs needed to find a common thread.

Once they settled on electronic medical information, the team got straight to work. MedRunner has already been incorporated as a company, and the team  – now up to six employees – is beginning its pilot this month with five national pharmacy chains and 10 physicians in New Brunswick.

After the four-month pilot, Murphy says, the MedRunner team hopes to expand immediately. “We’re going to work through it with physicians and pharmacies and use the beta launch to work out any problems, and work with our customers to make sure we don’t build what they don’t need.”

All physicians in the province will have access to MedRunner free of charge, he explains.

“We’ve got a great team. We expect to completely change the health care system -that’s how ecstatic we are.

Jumpstart to launch

UNB Saint John’s 12-month MBA program was just was Murphy wanted.

“A two year program was not in the cards,” he says.

Murphy already has a business background, and didn’t want to be out of the workforce for any more than a year. He didn’t lose out on any education, though.

“It’s an intense program – literally a two-year program condensed into one.”

He credits his business professors for providing a solid learning experience and teaching him the right approach to business. He also credits Saint John for being the right city to launch a tech business.

Saint John is home to propel ICT, an information & communication technology support network that assists the growth of early stage companies by getting actively involved in growing them.

The UNB Saint John MBA program also pairs each student with an executive-level businessperson in the city to provide mentorship. Murphy’s mentor, Gerry Pond, helped him get involved with propel ICT and supported him along the way.

“We would not be where we are without the support of Propel ICT, our board of advisors, Mariner Partners, and most importantly Gerry Pond, Bob Justason and Curtis Howe believing in us,” says Murphy.

“Saint John is the premier spot in Atlantic Canada to launch MedRunner. It’s where I want to be and build a world class ICT healthcare company.

“Propel helped us get to a funding-ready stage, where we have raised early stage angel funding, NRC-IRAP support, and private equity. We’re actually pending partnerships with national companies.”

In the past year, he explains, “significant” partners have approached MedRunner, allowing it to adapt with the industry itself. Murphy explains, “the scope has grown to include multiple parties that can include government systems, pharmacy vendors and pharmaceutical corporations.”

Contributed by Josh O’Kane. This story was made possible thanks to the financial support of the UNB Associated Alumni

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