In the late ‘90s a pharmacy in Lincolnshire started the first organized prescription home delivery service: a driver with his van delivered medicines to patients having difficulties reaching their pharmacy. More than 25 years later this strange thing is a regular service provided by the big majority of pharmacies in UK, Ireland and many other countries.
More than 25 years later we can try to understand how this service is really useful, the benefit it can generate and the challenges involved.
The first patients having access to this service were enthusiastic and the reason is easy to understand: they had not to go to pharmacy as the medicines were brought to them. During the time the quantity of patients requiring home delivery increased and now it is a standard procedure for a significant number of them.
The experience in those years shows that home delivery is for sure attractive but at the same time it brings some challenges both to patients and to pharmacy. Patients did not receive their medication because they were not at home obliging them to agree a new appointment with pharmacy. Sometime this missed delivery was causing really troubles because medicines were urgently needed. That’s really frustrating for patients and sometimes caused serious problem.
For the pharmacy home delivery became a huge cost and a complicated service to be organized. The costs for the van, the team involved in the operations and time necessary for organizing it are more and more challenging for any pharmacy. The issue is becoming even bigger considering the reducing financing governments are giving to health care systems all over the world.
So from one side home delivery is requiring more and more efforts and investments and to the other side the service is not a perfect solution for patient. At this point we should ask ourselves if home delivery is the best solution for any patient and if the amount of money invested is generating an adequate service.
We should also try to understand if this model is compliant to the behaviors and needs of a 2.0 patient: patients are more and more familiar with APP, web applications, web services…Is home delivery really what patient’s expecting today?
Pharmacy should consider what automation could do for their patients and should the advantages automation can bring compared to more traditional way of running operations. Now we are in a moment where traditionally operated pharmacy are in bigger and bigger financial difficulties and we also understand they are not satisfying the needs of their patients. So it’s time to look carefully to what the situation is, what the challenges are and consider the opportunities automation can offer.