Paul Leamon, an Indiana University alumnus and former Wachovia investment banker, launched Wellfount Corp. five years ago to help long-term-care facilities automate and electronically manage their pharmacies. The company installs a drug vending machine in a long-term-care facility that can be controlled by its staff in Indianapolis. It also develops software to link the machine to the long-term care facility’s electronic medical system. The software and service are designed to save time and reduce errors. Wellfount made the Inc. 500 list last year and now has secured $6 million in venture capital from Arboretum Ventures to help it expand nationally.
IBJ: What prompted you to start the company?
A: I had done a little bit of work at Wachovia in the field, in the segment [of supplying pharmaceuticals to long-term-care facilities]. There’s two big public companies on one end of the spectrum [Omnicare and Pharmerica] and close to 1,500 mom-and-pop pharmacies in the middle. There’s just this opportunity in the market. Obviously, demographics are moving our direction. More and more of the boomers are moving into the system. And the traditional way of managing patient medication has been unchanged for decades.
IBJ: Why do nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities struggle with dispensing medication to patients?
A: Our average patient’s taking 12 prescriptions multiple times a day. And there are so many touches in the system. There are roughly 12 different hands that touch the medication before it’s administered to the patient. It’s a logistical nightmare. That system has so many quality issues. The industry estimates anywhere from 3-5 percent med errors. We’re dispensing the medication through, for all intents and purposes, a vending machine. The orders come in through an electronic system. Our pharmacist can clear the order, do various checks on that order. We can adjudicate the claim and make sure the payer is going to pay the claim. And then the order goes down to the vending machine, the nurse punches in a code, and the machine dispenses the dose. The waste in the industry is virtually cut to zero. It’s kind of the Redbox model to the Blockbuster infrastructure.
IBJ: What was your big break that opened up the potential for national growth?
A: The big break, really, before the VC came in, and what really broke us out of being a local pharmacy chain, was our work with the second-largest nursing home chain in the country, Golden Living. Some of their executives came to Indianapolis a year ago. They want to put the technology across the chain. That got the attention of the venture capital company. That also got the attention of a lot of other [long-term care] chains in the market.
IBJ: You serve 30 long-term-care facilities now and have a staff of 59. What are your growth goals?
A: The goals are really over the next three to four years. And our goals are to be serving 200-300 facilities. On headcount, that number is probably going to quadruple. Call it 200-220. There will be some field folks scattered across the country, but most of them are right here in Indianapolis.