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Christchurch's Medi-Map revolutionises pharmaceutical industry

20 August 2018

A former pharmacist has prescribed a new way to store and share medical records, saving millions of dollars in time for healthcare providers - and potentially saving lives as well.

When the 75,000th piece of paper flew out of his fax machine, pharmacist Greg Garratt knew there had to be a better way of prescribing medications.

Garratt teamed up with software developer Chris Parmenter and developed Medi-Map, a cloud-based medicine charting application that’s saving healthcare providers millions of dollars in medication wastage and dramatically reducing medication errors.

 Based in Christchurch, Medi-Map’s software eliminates the reliance on paper-based charts, allowing medications to be ordered, delivered and administered at the touch of a fingertip. This enables healthcare providers in facility-based care environments to have a singular view of medications.

“The most important piece of machinery in a pharmacy is the fax machine and we would get 75,000 faxes per year,” says Chief Executive Garratt, who used to own pharmacies in Invercargill before making the decision to start up Medi-Map in 2013 and relocate his family and team to Christchurch.

For a pharmacist, deciphering semi-legible handwritten prescriptions and charts from various doctors is somewhat of a headache, resulting in inefficiencies and in worst cases, life-threatening medication errors.

2012 research estimated 150 public hospital patients die each year from medication errors, where a simple error such as a misplaced decimal or illegible scrawl on a medication chart can potentially kill.

“The most important piece of machinery in a pharmacy is the fax machine and we would get 75,000 faxes per year,” Medi-Map Chief Executive Greg Garratt.

 And there’s another major issue the app tackles. New Zealand, like many Western countries, spends a huge portion of public health money on medications, yet a percentage of these pharmaceuticals aren’t actually used by the people who need them.

Mr Garratt estimates around 10 percent of our nation’s pharmaceuticals are wasted every year, at a cost of millions of dollars to the New Zealand taxpayer.

Medi-Map’s ward stock control and stock taking software allows for detailed tracking of pharmaceuticals to minimise wastage, with one large DHB reporting 22 percent decrease in wastage over 12 months since implementing the new software – money that can be better spent on other initiatives.

“Medi-Map’s function allows facilities to manage the medicines with integrated reordering to pharmacy. This allows controls to be introduced around the large quantities of excessive medicines held in facility medicine cupboards,” Garratt says.

“Our primary focus is patient centred. We want to deliver better outcomes for patients, and to do this, we need to deliver better outcomes to doctors, nurses and pharmacists,” Garratt says.

His first-hand experience in pharmaceuticals, combined with Chris and his teams’ experience in software development has equipped Garratt with a deep understanding of the issues faced in today’s healthcare environments.

“We’re a tech company, run by health professionals,” Garratt says.

While most of their business is conducted in Australia and across wider New Zealand, Garratt says he made the strategic decision to retain the company’s research and development base in Christchurch.

“We had the option of setting up in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch and Christchurch was the best decision we could have made, both for the business and for our staff,” he says.

“We had the option of setting up in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch and Christchurch was the best decision we could have made, both for the business and for our staff,” - Greg Garrett.

 “Auckland would have been too expensive for our staff, transportation was also an issue and the loss of productivity would have been ridiculous,”

“We fly trans-Tasman on a regular basis to connect with our Australian client base and Christchurch has much better connectivity than Wellington.”

Garratt says Christchurch’s world-class, creative and connected tech sector is the best place for Medi-Map to continue exploring opportunities to revolutionise the pharmaceutical world and as the company expands to other markets, the core R&D and management will be retained in Christchurch.