On January 1, 2023, new legislation was enacted in Ontario that allows pharmacists to prescribe medications for 13 common minor ailments, including conjunctivitis, cold sores, eczema, and urinary tract infections. It's a welcome change for pharmacists eager to help their patients, but it also introduces a new workload for pharmacists who serve hundreds of patients daily.
AC:Studio client MAPflow has launched a new tool to help pharmacists manage this new addition to their care services. MAPflow is a web-based software as a service platform (SaaS) that pharmacists can use to manage patient interactions when assessing and prescribing medications for the 13 approved ailments. Andrea Edginton, president and COO at MAPflow, said the platform provides pharmacists with clear guidance on what questions to ask, which medications are within their legal scope to prescribe, and any red flags that would necessitate directing the patient to their primary care physician.
"MAPflow helps pharmacists assess patients, prescribe appropriately, and then automatically does all the required documentation. This is a new labor-intensive process and the software supports them throughout the interaction and beyond," Edginton said.
Like many founding teams, MAPflow's founders have deep experience in their field. Edginton is an original member of the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy and is currently the Hallman Director at the School. CTO Michael Sevestre has extensive experience in software development for pharmaceutical companies, and CEO Nardine Nakhla is a clinical lecturer at the UW School of Pharmacy.
"This is absolutely Nardine's space. She was a key member of the working group in the Ontario College of Pharmacists that created the minor ailments legislation for pharmacists," Edginton said.
Nakhla has taught courses on minor ailments at the University of Toronto and UW for over 15 years. Working together in academia and at MAPflow has introduced an interesting flip for Edginton and Nakhla.
"Nardine is a professor at the School of Pharmacy. I am the Director of the School of Pharmacy. In the academic world, I'm her boss, and in our other world, she's my boss," Edginton joked.
The province announced the new legislation in May 2022, and MAPflow quickly began working on the solution in June. MAPflow was launched to pharmacists on January 1 as the new rules came into place. Edginton said they have already hit their June targets for subscriptions to the platform.
"This growth speaks to the quality of the platform, the clinical pearls, and the just-in-time learning the platform gives pharmacists during an assessment. We've given pharmacists the right information at the right time so they can use their best clinical judgment to guide their decisions," Edginton said.
The new legislation comes at a time of extreme stress on the healthcare system in Ontario and a shortage of family physicians across the province. According to a recent study, over 1.8 million Ontarians do not have a family physician, and northern communities are currently short 100 family physicians. Edginton said pharmacists are trained to provide this care through their education. The legislation means they can now provide care while allowing family physicians to focus on other healthcare issues.
"Pharmacists are probably the most accessible health care professionals. You likely have a pharmacy a couple of blocks from where you are right now. You can now go in, explain your issues, and the pharmacists have the knowledge and the support from MAPflow to help you," Edginton said.
The team had the medical and development expertise to bring MAPflow to market, but Edginton said they knew they needed help with marketing and sales to bring the solution to pharmacists. Access to AC:Studio mentors were one of the things that attracted MAPflow to the Accelerator Centre.
"I look at contracts all the time, but marketing and sales, those are not my strengths. This is one of the reasons we partnered with the Ontario Pharmacists Association who has deep knowledge of the players in the pharmacy space and a marketing team. I also don't know about social media, I don't know how to hire business development people—and that's what the AC: Studio mentors bring," Edginton said.
Edginton has been working with mentor Kevin Hood to help with business development questions. She said he's helped her understand how to develop their process for business development that they've used to reach their sales targets successfully.
"There is a logical process to sales, like having a meeting with a potential client that goes through very prescribed steps. It doesn't matter what the business is. The process Kevin has taught me has been exceptionally valuable," Edginton said.
AC:Studio is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and is delivered in partnership with WEtech Alliance, Innovate Niagara, Conestoga College, SnapPea, Uvaro, Bereskin & Parr, PWC, and Gowling WLG.