Julia Regan, co-founder, RxLightning

For the last 15 years, Julia Regan has worked with industry pharmacy benefit managers, manufacturers, and EHRs in the health technology industry. Frustrated by the manual, paper-based process of the specialty medication enrollment process, she and her co-founder Brad Allen launched their own company in 2020—RxLightning.

RxLightning is a digital platform that transforms the enrollment process, helping to reduce paperwork, eliminate mistakes, streamline communication and accelerate the time to life—altering therapies for patients.

When did you get started with RxLightning?

Regan: We incorporated January 20, 2020. I left my full-time job on Valentine’s Day and then my co-founder left his at the end of February.

Then, basically two weeks later, COVID turned the world upside down.

Regan: Yes, but it’s interesting to reflect back on that time. The actual timing was beneficial on our side, because I think that if COVID had happened prior to Valentine’s Day–and we’re talking like a matter of two or three weeks difference–I don’t think we would be here. I don’t think I would have taken the risk. I don’t think my co-founder would have taken the risk.

Because I had to homeschool my kids, the shutdown allowed me to be a little bit more flexible with when I worked. We just focused on building the product, figuring out how to go to market, and figuring out the fundraising.

And now two years later…

Regan: We’ve raised $3 million in capital and we’re generating revenue, in addition to having secured users. We truly have validated our mission and what we’re trying to accomplish.

Why is RxLightning so relevant?

Regan: Specialty medications, from a volume perspective, represent only about two to three percent of all the prescriptions that are dispensed in the nation. So, while it’s a super high cost, it’s a low volume.

Getting a patient started on a specialty medication is generally a very manual, paper-based process. It includes a lot of phone calls and a lot of paperwork. Because of that, it sometimes takes weeks or months to get patients on therapy, depending on the disease state that they’re working on. We’ve streamlined that entire process. Something that used to take two to three weeks to get a patient medicine is now sometimes the same day.

What are some of the milestones the company has achieved?

Regan: RxLightning has grown to over 17 employees, has executed eight customer agreements and has begun generating revenue. We’ve developed partnerships, leading to technology actively available to over 30,000 doctors.

We participated in Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, a global program dedicated to accelerating the trajectory of high-potential B2B startups. We were one of only a handful of healthcare and life sciences innovators selected for it.

I was recognized as one of Endeavor’s 23 Female Entrepreneurs in the Midwest Who Need to Be on Your Radar. Earlier in 2020, we participated in XLerateHealth in the 10th cohort, and we were selected as a winner of the 2020 Vogt Awards funded by the Vogt Invention and Innovation Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville.

Talk about the tech behind the company.

Regan: What we’ve built is all proprietary technology, all on Microsoft Azure. We also embed our technology into different EHRs or technology solutions that providers are using to meet them where they’re at within the workflow. We’re working on interconnecting so that we tie into different specialty pharmacies, different manufacturer programs, and foundations. We look to be able to create an ecosystem where we are exchanging the clinical information with the destinations, receiving it digitally, and then also providing status updates back to the providers.

What are some of the partnerships you’ve made?

Regan: Illumicare, a leader in point-of-care technology, has now entered into a collaboration with us. RxLightning’s solution will be available on IllumiCare’s Smart Ribbon, a non-intrusive ribbon of information that appears within or momentarily hovers over a hospital’s EMR to display critical data. It gives healthcare providers a single destination to enroll patients for any specialty medication—brand or generic—at any specialty pharmacy. The app eliminates the need for healthcare providers to go to multiple portals.

What are some of the advantages of launching a startup in Louisville?

Regan: I think there’s a lot of advantages. The startup community has been extremely helpful and welcoming to us as an organization. There are tons of people available who are willing to help and mentor. Also, there are so many potential clients or partners in the area because of the healthcare community that already exists.

We started the company here because I live here and I’m not moving. But even aside from that, if I really thought about where we would need to be, Louisville makes a lot of sense from a partnership perspective.