Business-to-business health company pitch wins annual Pharmasave business competition

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Many Canadians are busier than ever before: workplaces are fast-paced and digital communication makes it hard to relax and disconnect. With so much going on, it’s easy to neglect health, especially when doctor and specialist appointments involve long waits or time off work.

Zoppy, a business designed by pharmacy students Israa Ali, Rida Bukhari, Rui Su, Ali Syed and Paula Wang, proposes a strategy for making health care easier to access for busy Canadians. Zoppy is the 2017 winner of the Pharmasave Business Competition, an event where third-year pharmacy students design innovative business plans and compete for a $5000 prize.

Students with Jaspreet from Pharmasave, holding trophy Members of the group with Jaspreet Dhaliwall (right) from Pharmasave.

Zoppy is a business-to-business company. The students proposed partnering with insurance companies to offer in-house health care providers for companies and their employees. As part of the insurance coverage employees normally receive, they would be able to take advantage of Zoppy’s services.

These services would take many forms starting with an online health portal. The portal would be secure and private and would store the employee’s health information. It would also allow them to send messages to their health care providers and to make appointments.

"We envision Zoppy to be an opportunity for pharmacists to use their skills to the fullest extent - optimizing pharmacotherapy, managing chronic conditions, and practicing preventative medicine through counselling and education," says team member Rui Su.

Zoppy team members with trophy

Left to right: Rui Su, Ali Syed, Israa Ali, Paula Wang and Rida Bukhari

Zoppy would be the first company to offer in-house clinicians that are available to employees on a daily basis. These in-person consultations could occur with a wide range of professionals such as pharmacists, physicians, nurses, social workers, dietitians, and health coaches. The health care providers would also have access to point-of-care kits to do quick testing for conditions like high blood pressure or COPD. The pharmacist would be at the centre of this model, managing the patient’s care plans after the patients meet with physicians.

For employees, access to Zoppy means quicker access to health care and improved physical and mental health. For companies, it means increased worker productivity and fewer sick days. For insurance companies, Zoppy’s services translate to decreased use of employer health care plans and therefore more savings.

“Zoppy was a strong proposal that included a holistic model of care,” says Jaspreet Dhaliwall from Pharmasave. “A business model that incorporates professionals from across the circle of care, including insurance companies, was an innovative solution that differentiates Zoppy in today’s competitive health care sector.”

The Pharmasave Business Competition has been held for seven years and has led to real-world businesses.