Designed by MUHC clinicians and researchers, MedSafer is an application that helps reduce drug prescriptions in a safe manner

On March 29, the final round of the Acfas Génies en affaires competition was held. The First Jury Prize, awarded to students for an innovation stemming from public research, was given to Émilie Bortolussi-Courval and Gregory Gooding, from McGill University, and Sara Bortolussi-Courval, from the University of British Columbia, for their project aimed at integrating MedSafer, a deprescribing software, into Quebec’s electronic medical records. The team was mentored by Emily McDonald, MD, a scientist in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and the co-creator of MedSafer.

The Génies en affaires competition gives students the opportunity to test their innovation commercialization projects with professionals and the general public, to showcase their qualities as innovators and their will to change society, and to benefit from mentoring. The first prize consists of a $10,000 scholarship plus $20,000 in consulting services.

“We are proud and happy to have won this award because we believe deeply in the potential of MedSafer,” says Émilie Bortolussi-Courval, who is a nurse clinician and a doctoral student at the RI-MUHC. “Integrating MedSafer into Quebec’s electronic medical records could improve the health of Quebec seniors, since 40 per cent of them take five or more medications on a regular basis, which increases the rate of premature death and hospitalization.”

MedSafer provides physicians and pharmacists with a digital roadmap to guide clinical staff through the deprescribing process. Its effectiveness has been tested in various studies. In the largest study published to date, MedSafer safely reduced potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) in elderly inpatients at 11 acute care hospitals across Canada. The results of this clinical trial were published in January 2022, in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

“Many older adults are taking far too many medications and it can be quite challenging to have any kind of meaningful impact on this growing societal problem. Deprescribing is a complex task, it’s time-consuming, and how to stop medications isn’t emphasized in the medical curriculum,” adds Dr. McDonald, who developed the application with Todd Lee, MD, also a scientist at the RI-MUHC and a physician at the MUHC. “We would like to congratulate Émilie, Gregory and Sara for this award and for their commitment to sharing the full potential of MedSafer”.