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.
Rick Bunker: I'm Rick Bunker. I'm the cofounder and CEO of Prescription Advisory. Our company sells a software service that physicians and pharmacists can use to quickly identify when it's safe for patients to use narcotic drugs or when they might have a problem with tolerance or addiction, which needs to be treated.
Edwin Warfield: Could you briefly trace your long and distinguished career?
Rick Bunker: I started out as a computer programmer working for financial services institutions and eventually moved up to where I was managing technology for financial services institutions, worked for SEI Investments, which is a firm here in the Philadelphia area, became their CIO and they had owned a company called Reality Online, which they subsequently sold to Reuters, and wanting to move from back office IT work to front office.
I went to Reality Online to run business development and product management and eventually became the CEO there. I then went to Internet Capital Group and got to participate in the Internet boom and bust of the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, and from there went to GSI Commerce, which did a business that was very similar to what we did at Reality Online, although instead of building that web presence for brokers we were building that web presence for retail stores or sports brand vendors, and then went to ICG Commerce, a subsidiary of ICG, and I was there for seven years. We eventually changed the name to Procurian and we are able to able to see that business up to $140 million of revenue and the sale to Accenture for $360 million.
Edwin Warfield: How did Prescription Advisory Systems and Technology happen?
Rick Bunker: At that point I had the luxury of thinking about what I wanted to do next in my career and I went on a sort of a search to talk to trusted friends about their jobs and what they liked and didn't like about them as a soul-searching exercise to figure out what to do next. A dear old friend who is now my cofounder in the business, Dr. Skip Leeds, talked about his job as a physician and what he liked about it and what he didn't like. And as a primary care physician, one of the key dissatisfaction drivers for him was acting as a gatekeeper for controlled substances.
Dr. Leeds had come up with a number of protocols, ways that he could check a patient's history and look for patterns, which would suggest that he needed to be cautious about prescribing to this patient or in the absence of which he could comfortably prescribe without having to go through the whole detective game and that's what we identified as the opportunity for Prescription Advisory.
Edwin Warfield: How does PastRx work?
Rick Bunker: We took these manual protocols, which he had the luxury of doing as an academic doctor because he had med students and interns who could spend 20 or 40 minutes manually going through all of this data but which a real practicing physician, who has got to see 15 to 20 patients a day, can't possibly afford the time to do and we've automated those.
We have found a way to gather out of a public database comprehensive history of a person's controlled substance prescriptions regardless of who has prescribed them and regardless of where they filled them and then we augment that data with a handful of additional sources of the characteristics and relative strengths and categories of the medicines, about the doctors, specialties and practices etc., and we analyzed this for patterns and allow a prescriber or dispenser of controlled substances to in a matter of seconds understand that this is not a patient they have to worry about. Here is an all-clear go-ahead and prescribe the medicine that you think is going to be effective for this patient or to diagnose a hidden addiction or tolerance and treat that and that's what we are in business to do.
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