Rui Su is used to rejection. The Rx2018 pharmacy grad has worn many hats over the years, but the one that suits her best is trailblazer. Su is an entrepreneur committed to improving Canada’s health-care system. On this journey, she’s learned that rejection is part of the process.

“I can’t tell you how many times we pitched to an angel investor or a venture capitalist and they told us ‘I don’t understand your product. Don’t pharmacists just count pills?’” Su says. “There were so many naysayers, so many people along the way who didn’t understand the value pharmacists bring to patient care.”

But those rejections are in the past. Su and her co-founders Purya Sarmadi and Nicholas Hui have developed a product that is supporting pharmacists and earning funding across Canada and beyond.

Together, they founded MedMe Health, a digital patient care platform that helps pharmacists deliver their clinical services at scale. They are already serving over 140 pharmacies across five provinces, and they recently received $100,000 (CAD) in funding from Velocity in the incubator’s first virtual Velocity Fund Pitch Competition. They were also invited to be the only Canadian company of over 2,500 applicants to pitch at an event hosted by WeFunder, a San Francisco-based incubator, where they received $70,000 (CAD).

“Since COVID-19 hit we’ve seen a surge of interest in MedMe as pharmacists are increasingly looking to support providing virtual care and value-added services,” Su says. “The funding from Velocity allows us to scale up to more pharmacies, faster. We expect to be in over 700 pharmacies this fall, across independent pharmacies and larger enterprise organizations, and the demand is increasing daily with the urgency of flu season coming up.”

MedMe offers pharmacists an all-in-one platform to schedule, conduct, document and follow-up on pharmacy clinical services. It was built by a team of pharmacists, software engineers, health informatics strategists and product designers. It also offers a secure virtual platform for video-conferencing patients and in Alberta, it is being used to schedule and document asymptomatic COVID-19 testing.

“When building MedMe, we didn’t want to re-invent the wheel based on existing dispensing software — there’s already a plethora of solutions built for that purpose,” Su says. “Instead, we intentionally focused on the gaps in the pharmacist’s clinical workflow and built solutions to streamline their delivery of clinical services.”

Su used the knowledge she gained through previous co-op, health tech and start-up work experiences to build a product that meets a real need.

“We are seeing a transformation in the role that pharmacists play in our health-care system,” she says. “Increasingly, pharmacists can offer more and more clinical services. MedMe ensures that they can do so in a structured, secure and seamless way, instead of adding services in an ad hoc fashion. Pharmacists who see the changes coming have appreciated that about our product.”

MedMe’s team is small but growing to meet the demand for their services. The sting of those early-days rejections has long since faded as their company continues to accrue investment and interest, particularly as flu season approaches and pharmacies determine how to offer flu shots safely during the pandemic. Su was recently recognized with the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy’s Wellspring Leadership Award in recognition of how her career has supported the profession of pharmacy.

“As pharmacy moves from a product-focused business to a service-based one, the role of pharmacists is rapidly shifting from perceived ‘shopkeepers’ to treatment experts,” she says. “Pharmacists can lead innovation in the field of health technology. I want to send this message loud and clear — pharmacists are more than pill-counters, and we can write our own stories of innovation and positive change within health care and beyond.”