By Brian Brus
Courtesy of The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma City company grown from the Governor’s Cup business plan competition is ready to solidify a niche in the criminal justice system, Chief Executive Dennis Cotner said.
Cotner said he kept Medtrieval’s profile low for about three years while pursuing a patent for the automated medication retrieval unit. The Journal Record first reported on Medtrieval in 2008, when a team of undergraduate students at Oklahoma City University was named a finalist in the statewide business plan contest.
Simply put, the Medtrieval system parcels out scheduled medical treatments. The end users that Cotner has his eye on typically receive those meds delivered prepackaged in blister packs handled by nurses and overseen by law enforcement personnel. Medtrieval simplifies the automated pharmacy process and reduces errors.
Cotner knows something about how the economy works within a prison system: He was formerly the health services administrator for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for 13 years. He said in a Corrections.com industry newsletter interview in 2000 that inmates make choices in how they spend their income and that fee structures helped shape those decisions to reduce unnecessary costs.
Medtrieval would further improve such cost savings margins while also ensuring medicine is taken by the proper patient. The latter is important because economic forces also operate at a black market level within prison populations – it’s common for inmates to hold their pills and trade or sell them later. One of the benefits of the Medtrieval system is that meds can be mechanically crushed and mixed with water to drink, effectively making it impossible for inmates to hold pills. Each patient is also biometrically scanned – a fingerprint, for example – so that the transaction can be recorded and confirmed.
“We’re talking about a pretty high volume of medications that are being handled in the country’s corrections system, about 4.5 million doses given to inmates every day,” he said. “So there’s a lot of room for problems and errors. It’s frustrating at times.”
Cotner isn’t quite ready for market yet; he still needs a proof-of-concept prototype. To that end, he’s looking for capital investors. Cotner said about $300,000 is the minimum the company needs, but he’s open to a larger stake and ownership control discussions.
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