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