Team Pharma-RFID wins $5,000 at U of T Pharmacy’s 2018 Business Plan Competition

2018 Business Plan Competition winners with judges (From left: Shane Flynn, Jaspreet Dhaliwall, Rajivi Ranjithan, Josephine Ho, and Superna Ramesh, Michele Caveen, Jamie Kellar)

As the role of pharmacists and other healthcare professionals continues to evolve, there is a drive to leverage new technologies and redesign services to enhance the delivery of patient care. The Pharmasave Business Plan Competition at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy provides for PharmD students with an opportunity to bring together their clinical and business skills to create novel solutions that can improve individual patient care and have a positive impact on the wider healthcare system.

Hosted by the Faculty’s Centre for Practice Excellence, teams of up to four students applied theoretical knowledge to current issues in pharmacy practice and developed practical solutions that demonstrated real value for money.

Shortlisted teams worked with entrepreneurial specialists to develop their business idea and pitch. On November 15, 2018 finalists presented their business pitch to a panel of healthcare and commercial experts.

Rethinking behind the counter

This year, Team Pharma-RFID came in first place, winning a $5,000 shared prize and a professional development opportunity with Pharmasave. Their business idea aims to tackle the often inefficient inventory management in community pharmacies by replacing UPC barcodes with RFID, or radio frequency identification, tag technology.

Using barcodes, items need to be scanned individually and the information contained within the code itself is limited. This inefficient and time-consuming processes prevents pharmacies from providing more patient care services. Introducing RFID tags would greatly increase efficiencies in the inventory intensive work of pharmacy. “For a conceptual example of the efficiencies gained with RFID technology, consider a supermarket checkout line,” said Rajivi Ranjithan, PharmD student and Pharma-RFID team member. “Each item must be individually bar code-scanned in order to be processed. Using RFID technology, all of the groceries could be placed on an RFID scanner and be read at once, significantly decreasing the time necessary to process items and tally prices.”

The judges were impressed with the practical potential of introducing RFID technology to improve inventory management and rewarded Pharma-RFID with the first place prize.

“The competition was the perfect opportunity for us to be creative and come up with a solution to a problem we saw in healthcare,” said Josephine Ho, Pharma-RFID team member.  “Our team put in many hours refining our business idea, learning about finances, and practicing the pitch.”

Learning beyond the classroom

Taking advantage of learning opportunities outside the PharmD course schedule gives students the chance to enhance their skillset.  “Winning this competition has demonstrated to me the value of dedication and teamwork and has inspired me to continue to look for new learning opportunities,” said Superna Ramesh Pharma-RFID “Extra-curriculars are important to expand your horizons, acquire new knowledge and skills, and to keep you a little sane. Studying for a PharmD is tough, but balance is always key!”

2nd Place Winners: Save-a-Dose

From left: Nicholas Chiang, Julia Lui, Leah Egan, Jessie Kajorinne

3rd Place Winners: One Care

From left: Jia Hui Zhao, Edmund Luke, Han Byul Kang,