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Lloyds's Echo faster Rx delivery trial paves way for same-day service

The service is available in London and parts of south east England

A Lloydspharmacy and Royal Mail trial that will speed up the multiple's Echo delivery service could eventually lead to a same-day delivery service, the companies have announced.

The trial – which will run for up to three months – gives patients in London and some parts of south east England the option of receiving their repeat and acute prescriptions sooner than they would under the current Echo delivery service, Royal Mail and Echo said in a statement last week (March 5).

The average time “from order to delivery” is currently four days, Echo said on its website. However, patients using the service in pilot areas could receive the medicines they ordered in the evening as soon as the following day, according to the companies.

Echo and Royal Mail said this “trial paves the way for a same-day delivery service covering morning orders for urgent medication”.

Lloydspharmacy expects that these same-day deliveries will initially only account “for about 0.5% of our daily dispatches, so we are operating within a safe capacity that does not impact our other services”.

No extra costs

A Lloydspharmacy spokesperson told C+D yesterday (March 8) that the service is available to patients in the pilot areas at “no additional cost”. However, patients can still select same-day collection from a Lloydspharmacy branch – a function the multiple added to its Echo app last November.

“The scope for expansion” of the trial across England is “currently unknown, but we are excited to understand how a service like this can be rolled out more broadly in the future,” the spokesperson added.

Lloydspharmacy identified “no risk to patient safety” associated with the trial, for which it said it is following its “standard operating procedures, in addition to any extra processes for the new delivery option”.

The pilot follows the news of Amazon Pharmacy being granted trademark status in the UK in December last year. The multinational company is initially operating in India and the US, where Amazon Prime members can opt for a free two-day delivery service.

Echo – which currently works with more than 9,500 GP practices in England – reported a revenue rise of 300% on pre-pandemic levels, McKesson announced in August last year.

What do you make of this trial?

The direction of travel for this is automated pick up points with refrigerated compartments such that most dispensary products can be securely stored. Can envisage some sort of e signature for the CD's via EPS alongside a digital identity verification system to check people collecting the prescriptions. Is it an uphill battle to break the learned helplessness around this idea? Yes, is it a challenge that'd potentially disadvantage the technologically illiterate and disenfranchised further in society? Yes. Its time for community pharmacy to decide what it proposes itself to be in the future.

P M, Community pharmacist

how are they making money..? 

Female Tech, Pharmacy technician

They're not, that's why they are shutting branches and trying to sell off the bricks and mortar stores.

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

This has to be April 1st right?

If deliveroo is anything to go by, which is paid for, and still makes around £200m loss each year trying to deliver, echo has no hope to deliver even in the same day.

There is not enough margin to deliver like this. This is the reason why P2U continue to make a loss. But then again deliveroo's IPO is valuing the company at £7bn on £200m loss!

TC PA, Community pharmacist

I'm interested to know more about how "Echo – which currently works with more than 9,500 GP practices in England". I assume this means that the Echo app works with the Dr's computer system like how the NHS app does to allow repeat ordering. This raises important issues:

Are Lloyds being given a competitive advantage over others? Are all other apps allowed to work in sync with the GP's systems? If not, then is that breaching competition laws?

How does this work in areas where pharmacies have been banned from ordering on a patient's behalf? Including acting as the middle person i.e. taking a repeat request from a patient and passing it onto the doctor.

Female Tech, Pharmacy technician

I used Echo for a couple of months. The patient has to make a request to Echo, it's not automatic.

Jamie Murphy, Sales

Any app can integrate into the GP clinical system. The NHS App, Healthera, Manage My Meds all do this as well as the GP apps. This doesn't affect areas that pharmacy ordering is banned as the orders placed on these apps are patient initiated, meaning the patient orders and the app sends it into the GP system. The pharmacy doesn't get involved with the ordering.



TC PA, Community pharmacist

Thanks, that is interesting. 

Makes you wonder why there is a need for privately run apps with access to GP clinical records when the NHS already has one.  

I provide an app for patients if they want it but it is essentially just a reminder to order medication, it is not linked with the surgery's system. 


C A, Community pharmacist

I'm sure Echo recieved NHS Digital funding back when it was starting - 2015ish? As part of the technology appraisal and future tech thinking. Hence why it plays so nicely with GP surgeries.

Angry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I think once they've mastered doing scripts in less than one week they can start to look at offering faster delivery. All stores massively understaffed and dangerous! No Cd balance checks done in some stores with huge discrepancies. Consultation rooms not confidential and stores in dire need of refit. Some Gphc inspections need to occur and also health and safety from the council because I'm sure an independent wouldn't get away with half the things this company does.

C A, Community pharmacist

If you can do it online quickly there is no need for pesky stores or staff! If you can do it same day for acute items is there even a need for community pharmacy?

It's a scary possible future for community but most importantly moar profits for the shareholders and fat cats!

Discounts may or may not be available for the Department of Health, which may or may not keep them happy.


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