Microsoft invests $2.7 million in Waterloo startup
March 23, 2022
WATERLOO, Ont. – MedMe Health, a startup that helped pharmacists book COVID-19 vaccines and tests, has secured $2.7 million (US) in seed funding to expand its successful health-technology platform. Anyone who booked a COVID vaccine appointment at a pharmacy likely used the software, which currently serves more than 14 million patients at 3,600 pharmacies across Canada.
“Our vision is to transform pharmacies from dispensing locations to health-care hubs,” said co-founder and chief clinical officer Rui Su (pictured).
MedMe Health is a web-based platform supporting scheduling, documentation and clinical-services management at major pharmacy chains including Rexall, Shoppers Drug Mart, Guardian, IDA, Remedy’sRx and Pharmasave.
Last year, it helped pharmacies give more than 2,220,000 COVID vaccine doses and 155,000 COVID tests, as well as flu shots. Just in December, 760,000 appointments were booked through the platform.
The pandemic, which spurred a shift to more virtual healthcare, highlighted the urgent need for pharmacies to have the technology to meet patient needs.
Ontario continues to expand the role of pharmacists, including prescribing medication and giving immunizations. Pharmacies are also readily accessible with so many locations, and the potential to provide a host of healthcare services including chronic disease management.
“It’s a hub in the community and we want to expand on that idea,” said Su, who has a doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Waterloo. “The problem was always how do we unleash the power of pharmacists to do more for their community, do more for their patients.”
Streamlining their workflow was essential – especially when people anxious to book a COVID vaccine dose started overwhelming pharmacies with phone calls.
“That really clicked for a lot of the pharmacies, especially during the pandemic,” said Su, one of MedMe’s three co-founders.
The team had their work cut out for them, doing weekly and even daily updates during the pandemic as things changed quickly – including pharmacies being thrown into the vaccination effort. MedMe made it possible to screen people ahead of time to focus on giving the vaccine, rather than answering hundreds of phone calls.
“We worked really hard to customize our platform,” Su said.
The plan for the funding is to expand the team, which is currently under 50 people. “We’re looking to double or triple our team this year,” Su said.
MedMe is a shining example of the pandemic-inspired innovation inside the University of Waterloo’s incubator, called Velocity.
Responding to the surge in health-tech kicked off by the pandemic in 2020, Velocity launched a fund to invest in health-tech startups and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario invested $10 million to build the Southern Ontario Health Innovation Pipeline.
Now UW, in partnership with the City of Kitchener and local community leaders, is building the Innovation Arena – a new location opening in 2023 that will boost Velocity’s ability to support startups.
“The pandemic really kicked us into gear,” said Marine Dumontier, senior communications officer.
Velocity has always been interested in supporting health-related companies, but COVID-19 sparked even more ideas. One out of four applications are health-tech startups.
Those innovative ideas aim to build technologies that will assist care providers while giving patients the same digital experience they get in other aspects of life but health care has been slow to adopt.
“That’s good for everybody,” Dumontier said.
Technological solutions like MedMe take care of mundane but essential tasks to free up professionals “to better use their deep expertise” to care for patients.
While it started out with a big focus on assisting pharmacists with their workflow during the pandemic, “their solution is much, much bigger than that,” Dumontier said. “They’re a fantastic company.”
Su can’t imagine where MedMe would be without Velocity, and all the support and encouragement the incubator gave the first-time entrepreneurs.
“It honestly made all the difference in the world.”
Source: The Record