Over the past quarter of a century, Rick Bunker has fashioned a career in technology, software, finance and media, after initially studying Russian language and literature.
Now Bunker is leveraging his software skills and a friendship with Dr. Skip Leeds, his cofounder at Prescription Advisory Systems and Technology, to carve out an exciting new path in healthcare. PAST has developed technology that will help doctors quickly identify which patients are at risk for addiction of narcotic drugs, and which are not, helping them quickly write out prescriptions.
“We have found a way to gather out of a public database comprehensive history of a person's controlled substance prescriptions,” Bunker said in an interview with citybizlist. The software spits out in near real-time an “all-clear go-ahead” to prescribe an effective medicine for a patient without fear of hidden addiction or tolerance, he added.
Bunker has previously held executive-level technology positions at three publicly traded companies – SEIC, ICGE, GSIC (now a division of eBay) – besides being CEO of Reality Online, a Reuters subsidiary. He is now focused on commercializing the technology, and raising funds to advance its growth.
“I think early next year is probably when we will look for funding and it's really just all about hiring salespeople faster than we can organically afford to do so,” he said in the interview.
Edwin Warfield: What were the challenges of developing the software?
Rick Bunker: 2013 was the official date that we incorporated and put the first money to work. I would say the first year was all about intellectual property, it was interviewing Dr. Leeds and other doctors to understand the patterns that we should look for, reviewing literature and finding peer-reviewed studies to say…for example, one of our tests is to look for a gap between the date upon which a prescription was written and the date upon which it was filled, a write-fill gap. We wanted to find peer-reviewed literature saying that write-fill gaps do in fact act as indicators of trouble.
We had a lot of work to do like that, we filed for patents etc., and then it was really 2014 when I left my previous job completely to join full-time and we got to work building software and it took a good year and a half to get the software to work. We are a subscription software-as-a-service model, which has wonderful economics as we deploy and sign up more and more customers. We don't have to write the software over again for each customer but there's a long period of time where you have to just keep writing checks and putting money into the business until you have the system built. So we went through that and now we are about a year and a half into really selling the business.
Edwin Warfield: How have you addressed the business challenges?
Rick Bunker: It's just over a year of having a real first sales person and then Eric started a few months after that and now we have two territories fully staffed, with an outside plus an inside, and we should add two more territories during this year and then next year we will expand beyond that.
I will start with Eric Corkhill, who is our president and chief revenue officer. Eric has a substantial career in selling information technology to health care. He has been the chief revenue officer for companies that have been sold for in excess of half a billion dollars and he knows the industry so well and how it works, and he also has very disciplined and intelligent approach to selling. He is a thoughtful guy and analytical guy and has established ways of qualifying our pipeline, is guiding the field sales people and he has built a field sales organization, which uses a combination of inside sales people to get appointments and outside sales people to actually meet with the customers and close deals that's working very effectively and we're really lucky to have him. He is also an investor in the company, which I think is a statement of confidence.
David Stengle is our chief marketing officer. David is a brilliant strategist in enterprise software and is not only in charge of defining what goes into our product and doing segmentation and analysis of the market but he recently ran a campaign where we contacted every emergency department in the five states that we're selling into right now and we're coming up on going after all of the pharmacies inside hospitals. We find a particular place to connect into a hospital healthcare delivery network and then kind of try to spread within from that starting point. But he's also playing sort of the role of the startup all-purpose catchall guy. Before we found Eric, David ran sales. He will chase down relationships with our commercial advisory board and our medical advisory board.
We have three boards, we have an official legal board of directors, which is about governance and fund raising etc., and then we have a commercial advisory board, which is a group of people who help us and advise us on commercialization sales efforts, and then we have a medical advisory board and these are doctors, pharmacists, academicians, nurse practitioners and a physician assistant who guide us on product features and the efficacy and workflow. We not only have to have a product that gets the right answer but it has to fit into the way doctors work every day or else they won't use it.
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