Home Entrepreneurs UW School of Pharmacy students win $5,000 for ‘innovative business model’

UW School of Pharmacy students win $5,000 for ‘innovative business model’

by Ozva Admin
UW School of Pharmacy students win $5,000 for ‘innovative business model’

The Pharmasave Business Competition is held annually and has spawned three real-world businesses

A team of third-year students from the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy won a $5,000 prize for their ‘innovative business model in the field of pharmacy’.

The Pharmasave Entrepreneurial Competition, held annually, allows students to work in teams to develop a startup that solves a current healthcare problem aligned with Ontario healthcare regulations by presenting their ideas to a panel of pharmacists, entrepreneurs and financial advisers.

“Every year, the Pharmasave business competition proves that pharmacists can be entrepreneurs,” said Dean Pacey, a professor at the School of Pharmacy. “Our course and competition are unique to the School and provide students with the opportunity to practice entrepreneurial skills while engaging with our community’s strong ecosystem of start-ups.”

This year’s winning team, Iryna Zhyrnova, Amanda Nicole Helka and Alli Meyer, took the title with their business, URinCharge. The team focused on connecting patients and pharmacists to solve urgent women’s health problems, surveying a group of pharmacists in Ontario to demo the project and provide feedback.

While Ontario pharmacists can prescribe for minor ailments, it is voluntary and only those certified and participating can prescribe medications, which can make it difficult to find participating pharmacists for immediate ailments.

“Technology is growing exponentially and there seems to be an app for everything on the market,” Zhyrnova said. “Digital connection is becoming a normal part of everyday life. Why not apply an app to something that can help people take charge of their health? ”

The teams’ app, which uses GPS location, allows a person experiencing UTI symptoms to connect with a pharmacy of their choice to schedule an appointment within two hours. The app lists all the pharmacies that report having appointments available to give the patient the option to choose which location and time works best for them.

Once the application connects the user with a pharmacy, the patient will receive a referral to a doctor or their prescribed medication, depending on their situation. If the consultation results in a prescription, the patient can choose their preferred pharmacy to fill the prescription.

“Our goal is to help people experiencing UTIs, typically women, gain access to care in a way that doesn’t force them to take time off work and affect their lives,” Helka said. “If the last two to three years have taught us anything, it’s that the Canadian healthcare landscape will continue to face disruptive changes for decades to come.”

Winning the competition assured the team that their idea has great potential for real-world application; competition has led to at least three real-world businesses in the past.

“It was amazing to see pharmacists excited about the potential of our idea,” Meyer said.

The team hopes to use the prize money to develop the app with the software engineer and app developer they have been consulting with, once the minor illness prescription is accepted in Ontario.

“This project was close to our hearts,” Zhyrnova said. “Historically, women’s health has been understudied and excluded from clinical trials. Side effects and metabolism of drugs can differ among women, so much research remains to be done in that area. It is very important to advocate for the pharmacy profession and women.”

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