When business incubator Amaan Rumi’s team at Westlake High School came up with the idea to create an app to help people manage their medications and track things like conflicting medications and patient allergies, he thought of his grandmother.
“The first thing I thought about was what happened to my grandmother. “The doctors gave her an overdose of a certain medicine and she was in bed for two days in a row, barely able to move,” he said. “I thought it would be a way to prevent people like my grandmother from being re-admitted to the hospital, and people in general, because I had seen it first hand. It’s actually a really big deal.”
The five-member team spent a whole year putting together their business plan and won the business incubator class. In May, they won $15,000 in a school pitch competition. A few months later, in July, the team was selected to compete in the national competition and won that too.
The app, called PharmAssist, has a simple goal: to make taking medications safer for patients.
“We have features like medication reminders and also drug interactions to make sure the medication you’re taking doesn’t interfere with a personal condition or another medication you’re already taking,” said Westlake student Megan Swett. “The platform is a place where you can communicate with your loved ones, or if you have a caregiver or something, to communicate with them so they know if you’re staying on track with your medication.”
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Many other apps have similar features, says student Andrew Depew. PharmAssist is different in that it brings all these aspects together in one place.
The team won $10,000 in the national competition and had to find an investment to match the funding they currently provide. The group has been working on the business all summer and plans to continue taking classes as part of the Business Acceleration course at Westlake during their senior year.
The app’s business model includes multiple revenue stream options — patients can sign up directly and pay $5 a month for the service, hospitals can sign people up to try to avoid the fee they pay when Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days, and businesses they can pay for in-app advertising.
The next step is to start building and testing the app, which will likely take several months. The group plans to contact and work with clinics such as Baylor Scott and White as part of the testing process. Swett said it’s very important to collect and implement feedback, especially on an app that deals with something as sensitive as nursing.
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The students said they are excited to work on a project that will help people.
“Whenever we first came up with it, I knew I was going to really excel at it,” said senior Mason Mireur. “I know it’s something that’s important and something I can be passionate about, rather than something I’m not really interested in.”
Team member Parker Steen said he transferred to Westlake last year and was excited to have the opportunity to participate in the business incubator since his old school didn’t have a similar program.
“I saw this as an opportunity to kind of make it more than just a class and actually turn it into a business that we’re going to work on not just for another year, but maybe for many years to come,” he said. “Health care is not easy to solve, but as young people with great resources and great motivation, we believe we can get there.”