For many patients, properly adhering to their prescribed medication is a challenge, particularly when they are required to take more than one medication at a time.
According to the 2016 Health Care in Canada Survey, of the 43 per cent of adult Canadians that take 3 or more medications for chronic conditions, more than half do not adhere to prescription recommendations.
Seeing opportunity for change, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy students Antony Choi and Jakov Krezic, with their co-founders Purya Sarmadi and Sam Lee, developed MedMe, a proposed medication adherence platform that pairs a portable smart pill box and easy-to-use mobile app to create a tailored, patient-centered approach that could allow patients to directly report side effects and share their medication adherence data with care teams and loved ones to help stay on track.
“Working in a number of pharmacies, we observed many adherence processes that seemed antiquated and due for a reimagining,” said Choi. “We realized gaps exist in the current pharmacy landscape and this inspired us to create MedMe, a platform we hope will bring patients closer than ever to their doctors and pharmacists.”
Moving from concept to creation
Originally conceived as part of an annual Business Plan Competition hosted by the Centre for Practice Excellence at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, MedMe has evolved from an idea to a potential business.
“Participating in the Business Plan Competition provided us with a launch pad for our idea, and inspired us to keep going,” said Krezic. Each year, teams of up to four students develop practical solutions to current issues in pharmacy practice. Finalists present their business pitch to a panel of healthcare and commercial experts. “We believe that Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy equipped us with the necessary toolkit, and built our confidence to pursue a future in the world of entrepreneurship,” he said
In summer 2018, Choi and Krezic took their idea to the next level by entering The Hatchery, one of ten startup incubator powered by U of T Entrepreneurship. Through The Hatchery, Choi and Krezic teamed up with MedMe co-founders Purya Sarmadi, a recent graduate from U of T’s Health Informatics program and Sam Lee, an undergraduate student studying Computer Science and Physics.
“The Hatchery helped us build our business canvas with guidance from a mentor and a multidisciplinary team of U of T students from the faculties of Law, Business and Innovation Management,” said Choi. “By the end of our four months at the Hatchery, we had a new direction, as well as the opportunity to pitch and showcase our prototype to a room of investors and entrepreneurs. This really took MedMe to the next level.”
A step forward
Armed with a new vision and established team, MedMe’s journey is just beginning. The MedMe team has been invited to take part in the Next 36 – a national, non-profit organization that provides mentorship, capital and founder development to 36 of Canada’s young entrepreneurs each year. Earning a spot following a rigorous selection process, the MedMe team is hard at work while partaking in online classes and working remotely with mentors. Come May, the team will be dedicated to MedMe full-time as they refine their prototype and pitch to investors.
“We are optimistic that this opportunity will accelerate our growth and help us reach our goal of empowering Canadian families to stay healthy and pharmacies to remain competitive,” said Krezic. “Above everything else, it is our passion to solve the sustainability issues that our healthcare system faces. This continues to drive MedMe forward.”