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Numark pledges to ‘refine’ Hey Pharmacist app following concerns

Numark is committed to “continually refining and improving” its Hey Pharmacist app based on the feedback it receives from its members, it has told C+D, after some pharmacists raised concerns about the app’s current setup.

The Hey Pharmacist app was created to help pharmacies compete with online competitors and aims to drive footfall to Numark member pharmacies, which are automatically signed up to the service. Although, pharmacies can easily opt out, a Numark spokesperson explained to C+D today (January 12).

Some pharmacists took to Twitter this week to voice their concerns about the app’s setup – which currently only offers free medicine deliveries via Rowlands pharmacies as a default – and have questioned the support group’s decision to automatically opt in all Numark members.

When asked by C+D why the app currently only offers free home deliveries via Rowlands branches, a Numark spokesperson said that the group is discussing with members “what additional functionality they would like us to include on Hey Pharmacist”.

“Some members offer home deliveries whereas others do not. Our commitment is to continually refine and improve the service based on feedback from members,” they added.

 

A "unique opportunity"

 

Pharmacies can easily opt out of the service via NumarkNet, the spokesperson explained, but the support group chose to automatically opt in all members because it believes “this presents a unique opportunity for members to grow and importantly retain their patient base and therefore items, both within and beyond their postcode”.

The company has also invested in a multi-million-pound campaign to promote the app, expected to launch in May, which is why it wanted “every member in England” to be ready by then and have “the fullest opportunity to benefit from capturing nominations right from the outset”, it said.

Numark members can use the app for free until April 30. From May 1, Numark will charge a monthly fee of £60 plus VAT to those that are still signed up to use the service.

Phoenix UK – Rowlands’ and Numark’s parent company – announced the acquisition of the Co-op Health platform in March 2021, which it completed in April and then rebranded as Hey Pharmacist in July.

 

AIMp speaking to Numark about issues

 

Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D today that contractors have been flagging “mounting concerns" about the app, which she said had been raised with Numark.

“While we understand their intentions in wanting to provide a level playing field for independents against distance-selling pharmacies, we remain concerned that there are a number of anomalies which are at odds with the proposed ambitions for this app,” Dr Hannbeck added.

“This includes the current configuration only offering a Rowlands’ delivery service by default,” she said.

 

"Not intended to drive patients from nominated pharmacy"

 

While Numark prefers that patients visit their community pharmacy to collect their medication, “we recognise that there is an increasing set of patients that prefer a delivery option”, the spokesperson said.

“Our aim, with these patients, is to offer them a service through the Hey Pharmacist product, so that we can constantly remind them of the benefits of community pharmacy and always give them the collection option. We feel this is better than losing them from the Numark membership,” they added.

However, it is not Numark’s intention to drive patients away from their nominated pharmacy, it clarified. The app offers the “convenience of online ordering while also allowing [pharmacies] to keep the nomination and provide a better customer experience”.

“Indeed, the patient journey deliberately focuses on actively driving patients into pharmacy to collect their prescriptions, highlighting the benefits of collection from pharmacy and the other services that pharmacies can offer,” the spokesperson said.

What do you make of Numark's comments? Share your thoughts on the C+D Community

 

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