World Biz Magazine interview with Hector Bremner, CEO of Avricore Health Inc. Mr. Bremner was recently announced as a winner of World Biz Magazine's Top 100 Innovation Leaders Award 2023. Avricore Health Inc. received the Award of World's Most Innovative Companies of 2022. These distinctions recognise Avricore Health’s pivotal success in advancing pharmacy and improving patient outcomes.
World Biz Magazine’s Top 100 Innovation Leaders Award and Most Innovative Companies Award shine a powerful spotlight on exceptional companies and leaders that are shaping the future of their industries. It informs investors, journalists, customers, employees and C-Suites globally about companies and leaders demonstrating unique far-reaching vision and game-changing innovation. We specifically highlight and profile the most exciting companies across all industries that are pushing the boundaries of commercial performance, technology leadership, and dedication to sustainability and ESG. The Awards recognize product, service, functional, strategic, and managerial innovation in companies. The Awards also recognize companies showing exceptional commercial insight and market integrity. Sustainability forms a key cornerstone of the Awards and is an integral part of our selection criteria.
"We see HealthTab like Henry Ford saw the Model T or Steve Jobs saw the personal computer. Sure, we’re in business, and we think our product is better. However, there is a fundamental reason for the product, it doesn’t tap wallets, it adds real value to people’s lives."
Hector Bremner’s life and career have been marked by recognizing good ideas, getting things done and bringing people together.
After a successful career in business development and operations management with some of Canada’s largest brands, Hector founded Vancouver based TOUCH Marketing in 2007, whose innovative marketing, communications and project management strategies earned him a strong reputation for delivering results.
This drew the attention of leading businesses and non-profit organizations looking for winning strategies to communicate their messages and achieve their goals, and ultimately brought him into the uniquely challenging world of provincial politics.
He was invited to join the BC Government in 2013 where he served as a key advisor in the offices of BC’s Minister of International Trade, the Minister of Tourism and Small Business, as well as the Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Deputy Premier.
After leaving the BC Government, he joined Vancouver based communications firm Pace Group as Vice President of Public Affairs. There, he put his unique experience and special capabilities toward navigating the process of public policy making and ensuring his clients’ messages are heard. While there, he worked with a broad range of clients on high profile matters in the energy sector, non-profit, industry associations, local government and First Nations.
Hector’s ability to align clients’ interests with that of the public and key stakeholders through effective strategic communications approaches, as well as innovative government and public engagement, his clients found the support they needed to be successful.
In 2017, Hector Bremner was elected to Vancouver City Council in a by-election, having a dramatic impact on the city’s political culture and policy approaches related to the ongoing housing crisis. The following year he challenged for Mayor of Vancouver on a pro-affordable housing platform. While unsuccessful in achieving electoral success, his candidacy has been noted for its powerful message and positive impact on the policy environment.
Bremner’s board and non-profit related experience also includes:
• Fundraising for the Canadian Olympic Committee
• Board Director of the BC Senior Services Society
• Board Director of the Vancouver Biennale
• Cabinet Member, A Night of Miracle, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation
Today, Hector is CEO and Board Member of Avricore Health Inc. (TSXV: AVCR) which is a pharmacy service innovator focused on acquiring and developing early-stage technologies aimed at moving pharmacy forward. Through its flagship offering HealthTab™ (a wholly owned subsidiary), its mission is to make actionable health information more accessible to everyone by creating the world’s largest network of rapid testing devices in community pharmacies.
"HealthTab™ is a turnkey point-of-care testing solution that combines best-in-class point-of-care technologies with a secure, cloud-based platform for tackling pressing global health issues. With just a few drops of blood from a finger prick, the system generates lab-accurate results on the spot and data is reported in real time."
Tell us about some of Avricore Health's successes over the last year or so.
Avricore’s key offering to the market is HealthTab.
HealthTab™ is a turnkey point-of-care testing solution that combines best-in-class point-of-care technologies with a secure, cloud-based platform for tackling pressing global health issues. With just a few drops of blood from a finger prick, the system generates lab-accurate results on the spot and data is reported in real time. The test menu includes up to 27 key biomarkers for screening and managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease (e.g., HbA1c, Lipid Profile, eGFR). HealthTab™ has also recently added capabilities for bacterial and viral tests, such as strep and COVID-19.
The HealthTab™ network model is unlike anything in pharmacy today. It gives knowledgeable and trusted pharmacists a greater role in primary care delivery, while empowering patients to take more control of their health. It also reduces costs and waiting times and provides many potential revenue streams including equipment leasing & consumables, direct access testing, disease prevention & management programs, sponsored health programs, decentralized clinical trials, real world data (RWD) sets, and third-party app integration through API.
Over the last year, we have partnered with Abbott in Canada, and other jurisdictions, to offer their sector leading instruments as part of our platform. This includes the Afinion 2, iStat and the molecular instrument, ID Now.
We launched last year, what is now scaling, the first fully cloud supported POCT program in community pharmacy globally. It’s a significant advancement in the quality in testing in pharmacy, as we are using instruments more often found in acute care settings. It’s also a major in advancement in the speed and type of data collected, powering patient decisions making and healthcare plans.
Data generated so far generated has been overwhelmingly supportive of the expanded scope of practice for community pharmacies, bringing more primary care into this underutilized setting. After testing more than 8000 patients, 30% of patients are leaving with a new prescription after receiving tier test and consultation, 28% are leaving with a dosage adjustment and over 50% are having a direct intervention from their community pharmacist. Most concerning is the fact that over 5% of those tested are either pre-diabetic or undiagnosed diabetics, demonstrating just how much need there is to better screen for serious chronic illness.
These numbers are not only staggering in terms of the patient health impacts, but the financial ones on healthcare systems as well, as the earlier you can catch disease, the less likely a costly acute episode will be (i.e.: stroke, heart attack). This means the system is extremely attractive to governments and private payors looking to lower healthcare costs in this challenging economic time.
What is the state of access to primary health care and why is HealthTab well positioned to meet this challenge?
The trend for several years leading up to the pandemic, because of more physicians retiring or choosing specialization over family practice, was that fewer and fewer people had access to primary care. Then COVID hit, people had even less access to regular care and less physical activity, more stress and likely an increase in poor diet choices.
All of this has added up to incredible backlogs of chronic disease screening and management, further pressuring already stretched healthcare systems. Even now, emergency rooms and hospitals can’t keep up with the demand, triggering an acute care crisis that is seeing ER’s close.
HealthTab empowers the highly competent and trusted community pharmacists who have broad reach and makes it easy for anyone to access real-time screening for chronic disease and evidence-based decision making.
The system includes industry leading point-of-care testing (POCT) instruments from Abbott, an easy to use and secure data management platform and the only third-party reference laboratory oversight. Altogether, it’s a major advancement in pharmacy based POCT tools. It is accurate, easy to use, generates clear insights and shares that information with the patient, plus, offers those interested in research an exciting platform to conduct important real-world evidence gathering.
From the perspective of your customer, what values and product / service advantages make your company stand out in the market?
HealthTab is truly unique, as it brings the best in innovation in testing, data-management and costing in a turn-key one-window solution.
Patients are pained to access care (https://angusreid.org/canada-health-care-issues/ ) and that includes diagnostic testing. HealthTab means their local pharmacy can offer them ongoing healthcare support, using advance tools and evidence based approaches, dramatically increasing the access to important care, like chronic disease screening and management, while also reducing the amount of appointments (i.e.: not having to see a doctor, lab and pharmacist). This makes the approach extremely attractive for all involved, as it is more effective in terms of capability and efficiencies.
Share with us some insight into how HealthTab improves patient outcomes.
As it’s been said, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” And for many people with chronic disease, they are simply unaware of their risks and current health performance, as most nations have a “disease care” system, where we treat symptoms and acute issues, opposed to a healthcare system which invests in prevention and early intervention.
HealthTab ensures quick and easy screening and evidence-based management support in the community pharmacy, which engages the patient in their health and allows them to see how their treatment program and activities improve their results over time.
The evidence is clear, that if you catch disease early and act, you can dramatically improve patient outcomes, and save healthcare dollars. And in HealthTab capable pharmacies now, we already see significant increases in new prescriptions, dosage adjustments and direct interventions. We also see patients sticking to their therapies and taking up broader support services, such as certified diabetes instructors and mental health advice.
"HealthTab ensures quick and easy screening and evidence-based management support in the community pharmacy, which engages the patient in their health and allows them to see how their treatment program and activities improve their results over time."
"We looked carefully at what was working, and what wasn’t, in bringing testing into pharmacy. From that, we took care to break down the barriers, and cost was a big one."
How is Avricore Health minimizing cost barriers for pharmacies interested in HealthTab?
We looked carefully at what was working, and what wasn’t, in bringing testing into pharmacy. From that, we took care to break down the barriers, and cost was a big one.
Because lower cost instruments were affordable, they were more broadly distributed, but they produced poor insights and didn’t offer integrated data solutions. To overcome this, we identified laboratory grade instruments, negotiated distribution agreements and then take on the upfront cost of them. We then offer the pharmacy the HealthTab on a subscription basis, where the hardware and data solution is included in an easily absorbed monthly cost. The only additional cost is for the individual tests.
This means a pharmacy group can quickly get to scale without major upfront costs and generate revenues as they grow.
Talk to us about HealthTab’s current coverage in Canada and when it will be available internationally?
HealthTab is currently being offered by Canada’s largest pharmacy group, Shoppers Drug Mart, and we will be operating in 450 locations by the end of 2022, with further expansion plans in the years ahead. Part of that further expansion will driven by the fact we have, as part of our agreement, been able to expand into the Shoppers Drug Mart parent company’s, Loblaws, grocery locations.
We are currently working with other major Canadian chains to launch HealthTab in Canada and we’re also looking at international development. We expect to be in our first international market in early 2023 and will look forward to saying more about this once we are able.
"HealthTab is currently being offered by Canada’s largest pharmacy group, Shoppers Drug Mart, and we will be operating in 450 locations by the end of 2022, with further expansion plans in the years ahead."
Share with us some insight into Avricore Health's commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.
As a young company, we are excited to build our approach using the most progressive solutions to our operations and social contributions. From allowing remote work to reduce commuting, to collaborating, opposed to recreating products already in the market (such as instruments) we keep our footprint lean.
That said, it’s important to remember that Avricore Health and HealthTab’s core mission is to make access to quality care to everyone, not just making healthcare better for those who are already privileged to be first in line.
Remember, the community pharmacy is the only place anyone, regardless of economic, racial or gender status, can walk into and get healthcare now, besides the emergency room. That matters as fewer and fewer people have access to primary care, let alone preventative care.
We believe that everything we do must empower patients, including giving them control of their own health data. That’s why HealthTab ensures patients consent to the use of their data, and if they ever chose to retract that consent, they are free to do so. And, most importantly, they have access to their information and can use it at their will.
You have previously worked as a key advisor in the offices of BC’s Minister of International Trade, the Minister of Tourism and Small Business, as well as the Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Deputy Premier. How has your time in public service influenced your approach to business and innovation?
I am extremely passionate about public policy and contributing to our society. That lead me to a career in the political arena as an advisor to provincial cabinet ministers, Vice-President of Public Affairs working for a variety of parties interested in advancing their causes and even being elected myself to Vancouver’s city council.
This experience, added to my extensive private sector experience, as given me unique insights as to how things work – I mean really work, not just the way people assume by consuming news and social media.
This perspective and insight, combined with my passion for the issues we face, means I make decisions not simply based off near-term financial objectives, but I think we’ve successfully aligned a true purpose with our business objectives.
I could say a lot more about this, but perhaps the easiest way to communicate it is that we see HealthTab like Henry Ford saw the Model T or Steve Jobs saw the personal computer. Sure, we’re in business, and we think our product is better. However, there is a fundamental reason for the product, it doesn’t tap wallets, it adds real value to people’s lives.
I think our whole team takes great pride in that.
"While I’m very proud to be in my role, I didn’t seek it. Basically, I fell into it, therefore, gratitude and never taking this moment for granted also really is at the center of how I approach my job. I feel blessed every day, even on the hard ones."
"A good leader is the best follower, as they are the first to listen to what’s needed and are the first to put up their hand to serve."
What drives you as a CEO?
Fundamentally I’ve always believed regardless of your title, role, or responsibilities you must simply be driven to contribute to the team you’re on. Whatever it is, in whatever you have to give, whenever you can give it - make that contribution, big, small, whatever. It all matters.
And, while I’m very proud to be in my role, I didn’t seek it. Basically, I fell into it, therefore, gratitude and never taking this moment for granted also really is at the center of how I approach my job. I feel blessed every day, even on the hard ones.
It also helps to know that we get to truly help people every day. The patient testimonials collected by pharmacists are tear-jerking and makes very real that what we’re doing is diverting someone from being insulin dependent, or a heart-attack, or a stroke, or worse. Not often that you get to work on something like that, so I love every minute of it.
What makes a good leader?
A good leader is the best follower, because they listen to what’s needed and are the first to put up their hand to serve. In this way, the best leaders lead by an example through their ability to translate their listening skills to vision and then to action.
At least, those I followed did this, and I just try to follow the inspiration they’ve given me.
About Avricore Health Inc.
Avricore Health Inc. (TSXV: AVCR) is a pharmacy service innovator focused on acquiring and developing early-stage technologies aimed at moving pharmacy forward. Through its flagship offering HealthTab™, a wholly owned subsidiary, the company’s mission is to make actionable health information more accessible to everyone by creating the world’s largest network of rapid testing devices in community pharmacies.
HealthTab is the epitome of innovation, as it’s the first turn-key solutions for a fully integrated point-of-care solution.
This matters as the $1.6 Trillion USD pharmacy industry is going through a sea-change as they shift more of their focus towards services, such as supporting primary care, and away from the traditional “dispensing model” of just being a medication pick-up point.
Many factors are driving this change, from governments all around the world seeking to reduce generic drug costs and fees, to new competitors like Amazon looking to offer extremely competitive online pharmacy solutions.
Therefore, if you are a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, you need a reason for people to physically come and see you. Also, with the extreme challenges in accessing primary care, the pharmacy is in a great position to be an easy access point for healthcare on demand.
They need new tools, and HealthTab makes it easy and cost effective to acquire them. By disrupting the common economic model by offering the solution on a subscription basis and offering a one-window solution, it means the pharmacy gets sector leading instruments often out of reach of pharmacy, as well as advanced data tools.
In addition to the above, HealthTab is also the first pharmacy-based POCT program that is validated by a third-part reference laboratory. This is a significant advancement in the quality of program, giving patients, healthcare teams and payor the highest confidence in this decentralized, real-world healthcare data program.
For more information, visit: avricore.com