Are Online Pharmacies Taking Over?

Posted by Kayla Phillips on

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Your neighborhood pharmacist has a new address — they’re now on the web.

Clicking on any one of the links above would open a door that will send you to the property of an online pharmacy. Thousands of people everyday visit this pharmacy through these doors. No rent to pay, minimal stock kept on hand a global reach.

Just today they processed an order for some medication to be delivered to a nice elderly gentleman in rural Barbados. Nothing unusual there, however, the order was placed by the gentleman's granddaughter who lives in Australia! From her armchair on the other side of the world, through the miracle of modern technology, she was able to provide comfort to her grandpa with just a few keystrokes.

While brick-and-mortar CVS and Walgreens can still be found in thousands of American cities and Lloyds Pharmacy is a dominating chain throughout much of the UK and Europe, the days of waiting in line — or even hitting up the drive-thru — for  medications are quickly fading into the past. 

It is time to embrace the online pharmacy. This is exactly what it sounds like: pharmacists take medication orders online that are then delivered straight to the recipient’s doorstep. Unlike so many other industries, the e-pharmacy market isn’t being fueled by the over 50's, but instead by the under 30's, the tech savvy smartphone driven generation that is expected to make this online pharmacy phenomenon into a $155.4 billion industry by 2026 -- and that’s just in the United States. 

Convenience

Much like telemedicine that allows patients to connect with world-class doctors from the comfort of their homes, the  online pharmacy industry has a number of advantages with convenience being at the very top of that list. According to the Mayo Clinic, convenience was the motivating factor for over 50 percent of people who used online pharmacies (44 percent of customers said a lower cost was their primary reason for choosing one). 

There’s also the benefit of discretion.

In addition to providing everything from general headache medicine and cholesterol and diabetes medication, online pharmacies provide medications that some patients may be more reserved about acquiring such as Viagra or the morning after pill. The script can be filled and delivered in as little as 24 hours with discreet packaging to ensure privacy. 

Online Pharmacies improve purchaser’s comfort and access.

This will above all assist endless old-age patients living in family units, and patients who are not in a condition to go out and face the ordeal of standing in line wearing a mask. We in Barbados are rapidly accepting this new way of doing business and are moving quickly to embrace the opportunities it brings. It highlights that pharmacies will have to be prepared for a world where variety and convenience of access to services will become all important and where information provision, electronic ordering and home delivery will be the norm.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge, but it has revolutionized pharmacy practice in some positive ways.

Internationally, the internet has transformed the way we shop, with a visible impact on the City, Malls and shopping centres as traditional retailers struggle to remain relevant.

It may be less obvious, but the digital age has also had a profound impact on pharmacies. Worldwide, millions of people now routinely buy medicines and well-being products over the internet, and seek health advice online.

Barbados will not be left behind.

Online shopping has shaken up a basic business model that had survived for more than a century with little change. Patients consulted their doctor, who wrote a prescription for drugs or medicine. Patients then handed the prescription to their nearest pharmacist, who supplied the drugs prescribed by the doctor. The pharmacist sought to supplement the modest income from providing the service by selling other, mostly health-related products to this steady flow of customers sent in their direction by the doctor.

The internet has disrupted this model with online pharmacies giving consumers new choices and more control over how they manage their own health and well-being. At the same time, bricks-and-mortar pharmacies are having to rethink their role in the community.

Online pharmacies have been around for two decades, but it is in recent years that they have made real impact. Some 25 per cent of people in the UK say they are likely to use an online pharmacy in the future, according to a YouGov survey for the General Pharmaceutical Council earlier this year, and there are more than 350 registered UK online pharmacies. Pharmacy2U, the UK’s largest online pharmacy, has seen 300,000 patients use its Government NHS prescription service to have their medication delivered in the last 12 months, with a new facility in Leicestershire capable of dispensing 7.5 million items a month.

What drives this upsurge in demand for online pharmacies?

The UK like Barbados, has an ageing population resulting in more people living with a long-term health condition requiring medication. Increasingly, people are using the internet to help to manage their health and wellbeing. In the United States, an estimated four out of five people go online before deciding to consult their family doctor or go to hospital and this trend is reflected in the UK and in Barbados.

There is no doubt that the sending of electronic prescriptions from doctors to pharmacies, is increasingly popular and is likely to replace traditional paper prescriptions altogether. Because, not only is it good for the environment, it will save money. Even now, in Barbados, many patients will Whatsapp their prescription to their pharmacist.

The way patients think about their prescriptions will inevitably change, particularly those who have repeat prescriptions to treat long-term conditions. Patients will nominate an online pharmacy to dispense their prescribed medication, with the added benefit of having it delivered directly to their home.

As prescribing volumes increase online, bricks-and-mortar pharmacies are having to rethink their relationship with patients. Hundreds of pharmacies in the UK have already closed.

There are acute situations for which online pharmacies will never be the first choice, but consumers of long-term medicines and health care products have compelling reasons to favour an online channel.

1. Online pharmacies offer comfort and ease. You as a customer have to just place your medicine order and the rest of it, including doorstep delivery of your order, is taken care of by the pharmacy.

2. Pocket Friendly: Online pharmacies can offer excellent discounts and cash back offers. A part of it has to do with a reduced cost of maintenance on the company. No matter what model of business an online pharmacy adopts they generally save on the cost of maintaining infrastructure for offline pharmacies in the cities they function, making it easier for them to offer attractive discounts and better services without incurring huge loss.

3. Ease of Accessibility: All online businesses flourish because they are easy to access and understand. Online pharmacies are no different. Customer experience being paramount, most online pharmacies sell items online through a few simple steps, that any customer with access to internet could follow. The other side of accessibility is also empowerment. There are several patients or customers who are dependent on others for their healthcare for short term or long term. Online pharmacies allow all such patients to be more self reliant in their care.

Phillips Pharmacy is here to serve the people of Barbados. The future of Pharmacy in Barbados is here. You are welcome to join us.

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About Author

BETTER HEALTH & BEYOND Editorial Team

At Phillips Pharmacy Online our vision is to be an integral part in transforming the way that healthcare is delivered in Barbados & beyond. We are a group of passionate people working hard to make a big positive impact on the lives of people. We work with Doctors, Pharmacists, Pharmaceutical Suppliers and most importantly, with You, to improve the health of all.

Learn more athttps://phillipspharmacy.org

Disclaimer of Medical Advice:

You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.


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