Pharmapod raises €1.95m to bring Canadian pharmacies into digital age

4 May 2018

Image: Fabio Berti/Shutterstock

Irish-made technology is pivotal in reducing medication errors for patients.

Irish software company Pharmapod has secured CAD$3m (€1.95m) in investment from the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA).

Pharmapod, which was founded by pharma industry veteran Leonora O’Brien, is on a mission to bring pharmacies into the digital age.

‘Medication errors are a huge problem across the entire healthcare system, not just pharmacy. Here in Ireland for example, medication errors are responsible for around 25pc of litigation cases against GPs’

The company recently won a competitive tender to implement a medication error reporting system across over 4,300 pharmacies in Ontario (amounting to 45pc of Canada’s pharmacies) in what is the largest medication safety programme of its kind in Canada.

Pharmapod’s platform was chosen because of its robust, intuitive and highly scalable qualities.

Already with offices in Ireland, the UK and Canada, further expansion of Pharmapod’s Canadian and international operations will be driven by the CPhA investment.

It will also be used to drive further growth in the hospital and care home sectors. Following today’s announcement, the CPhA will become a minority investor with one seat on the Pharmapod board of directors.

Reducing medication errors

Leonora O’Brien, founder, Pharmapod. Image: NDRC

The cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at $42bn annually or almost 1pc of total global health expenditure.

The issue has now become a key focus for the World Health Organisation. Announcing its Global Patient Safety Challenge, it aims to reduce severe, avoidable medication-associated harm in all countries by 50pc over the next five years.

O’Brien said that the Pharmapod platform is now well-positioned as an effective tool to underpin the capture, analysis and reduction of errors internationally.

“It has always been Pharmapod’s vision to be a professionally led solution for patient safety,” she said.

“Together with CPhA we will effectively execute on our shared vision for safeguarding patient safety globally and we are delighted to have CPhA’s support and partnership.”

She continued: “Medication errors are a huge problem across the entire healthcare system, not just pharmacy. Here in Ireland for example, medication errors are responsible for around 25pc of litigation cases against GPs.”

Medication errors and hospital wait times often joined at hip

The Pharmapod solution can also help with the waiting times in hospitals. “Between 5pc and 8pc of all hospital admissions are due to medication errors, and these are preventable. Medication errors also increase the length of stay in hospital. Addressed effectively, costs can potentially be significantly reduced for payers such as the HSE and the public.”

She pointed out that in Ireland, pharmacies must keep a record internally of any errors that have occurred but there is no obligation to record to a national database of errors.

As a result, all the experiences and learnings from errors are not being shared. It is all kept within the individual pharmacy or pharmacy group.

She said that the absence of a robust profession-specific reporting system in Ireland means it is impossible to monitor trends on a national level and effectively engage in prevention, multi-disciplinary learning or systems improvement.

“We are very pleased to announce this exciting partnership with Pharmapod, who is recognised as a world leader in patient safety,” said Alistair Bursey, chair of the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

“Enhancing patient safety is one of the core foundations of CPhA’s vision and we are dedicated to supporting the adoption of patient safety strategies and tools to support pharmacists across Canada and around the world.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years