June 6, 2023

People have been embracing online pharmacies, while brick-and-mortar outlets have benefitted from the uptake of digital tools.

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The particular Covid-19 pandemic caused many sectors to embrace digital tools at a faster rate, with medical stores being no exception.

As lockdowns continued and in-person shopping was restricted, many pharmacies were forced to transform parts of their business.

Head of IT for Boots Ireland, Michelle Kearns, told SiliconRepublic. possuindo last year that the pharmacy and retail chain’s website grew “exponentially in users” after the onset of Covid.

“Years associated with planning for electronic solutions which were ‘nice to possess but maybe not necessary’ were catapulted into the category of ‘we need them yesterday, ’” Kearns said.

The digital change of pharmacies shows no sign of slowing down. In October, a study by Juniper Research predicted that this number of e-pharmacy users will reach 1bn globally by 2027. This study said the quantity of users purchasing medication from online pharmacies in 2022 is at 795m.

In a white paper accompanying the study, Juniper Research said Covid-19 was a key cause of e-pharmacy growth, as many countries scaled down people’s ability in order to enter store premises such pharmacies.

“Even those who had not used the service before had to adapt to this new way of getting their medicine, as they had simply no other options, ” it said. “This spike in use has led to e-pharmacies continuing to be a preferred method for ordering medication, with the increase in-person medical stores being closed down due to costs. ”

The particular growth associated with online pharmacies has gotten the attention of Amazon, which launched its own virtual pharmacy inside 2020 in order to push in to this market. It continued the move into digital healthcare with the acquisition of primary care organisation One Medical earlier this year.

This week, the tech giant announced an expansion to its offering in the form of Amazon . com Clinic . This service connects customers with digital care choices to treat 20 common health conditions this kind of as allergies, acne plus hair loss.

“Our new healthcare store lets clients choose from the network of leading telehealth providers based on their preferences, ” Amazon stated in a blogpost . “Amazon Clinic is just one of the particular ways we’re working to empower people to take control of their wellness by providing access to convenient, affordable treatment in partnership with trusted providers. ”

Transformation of Irish medical stores

Amid the changing environment, Irish pharmacies have looked to embrace digital equipment to improve their own service and reach more customers.

In July, the pharmacy inside Dublinstalled a dispensary robot that can give customers entry to products through screen clicks. The goal was to combine traditional services along with the feeling of an online store, while freeing up time with regard to staff in order to focus on other important tasks.

The particular Drumcondra pharmacy is part of the CarePlus franchise owned simply by John Keane, who has seven medical stores nationwide. After the launch of the particular upgrade, Keane told SiliconRepublic. com that some of his other locations utilised robots to assist their particular work, but these are usually only behind the scenes.

“The difference about Drumcondra is that will the 1 robot now serves the front of shop and the dispensary, so it’s a completely different user experience, in that you have the particular option to navigate what you want via the digital display, ” he explained.

‘We saw lots of positive change quickly during the outbreak, hopefully this particular momentum may sustain plus deliver change’

Speaking about the hybrid style pharmacy, Keane said this month that will his franchise has “definitely taken the first steps of this journey”, yet that there is still a long way to go.

“Innovation is the key to developing improved outcomes in healthcare, ” Keane said. “It is easy to imagine the particular benefits associated with a completely digitised and integrated pharmacy stack. ”

He added that “moving fast and breaking things” offers transformed our world, but he doesn’t feel that will route is possible in healthcare. This individual said aspects such as safety, regulation, integration with legacy systems and customer expectations all come to mind mainly because elements that can “hold progress back”.

“Moving and transforming slowly is probably a more honest review of electronic transformation inside Ireland, ” Keane mentioned. “We found plenty of good change rapidly throughout the pandemic, hopefully this particular momentum can sustain plus deliver change. ”

Earlier this 12 months, the HSE also collaborated with five CarePlus pharmacies on a pilot tech scheme to conduct rapid health checks .

Called the Health Elevator, this scheme was part of the national service’s digital health modification strategy. This aimed in order to give participants quick check-ups in medical stores to display screen for normal health problems, using a combination of wellness checks, expert advice and digital technology.

The project used software from Full Health Medical, an Irish company  that  aims to streamline patient care   with tools designed by doctors.

Bringing brand new tech to the UK

Meanwhile, software from another Irish company has been deployed in UK pharmacies this yr in a bid to boost electronic transformation.

In September, Irish health-tech start-up HasHealth struck a six-figure deal along with an UNITED KINGDOM pharmacy chain to provide an online booking system plus make it easier for patients to access health care.

This deal saw HasHealth become the on the internet booking provider of clinical services regarding Rowlands Pharmacy, which has almost 6, 000 pharmacies across the UK.

Part of Medihive, formerly known as Webdoctor, HasHealth provides a booking system, waitlist features, medical pre-screen questionnaires and resource management capabilities to improve everyday workflows and patient experiences.

HasHealth head associated with growth Olan O’Sullivan said at the time that will its services can save pharmacists “up in order to 20 hours” in work per week simply by automating individual communication and clinical data capture.

“It is crucial to free up pharmacists’ time, allowing them to expand their role in the community while also improving the efficiency of the patient journey, ” O’Sullivan said.

On its web site, HasHealth noted that click-and-collect services became a lifeline for retail and medical stores during the particular Covid-19 outbreak.

“Pharmacies, within particular, grew to become centres intended for community health in light of NHS backlogs, ” HasHealth said in a recent blogpost . “Click plus collect ensured consumers had been still able to safely access basic medicines without overburdening staff-short pharmacies.

“It also meant that in-store wait times and queues were reduced, helping staff and patients to socially distance themselves and remain safe. ”

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