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Lloyds CEO: Managing prescriptions online will empower pharmacy teams

“We need to move away from environment-centric healthcare”

In an exclusive article for C+D, Lloydspharmacy chief executive Toby Anderson explains the philosophy behind the rollout of the Echo repeat prescription app last week

It’s been said a thousand times but is worth repeating – healthcare is a long way behind other industries when it comes to embracing the digital world. We think nothing of managing the biggest purchases of our lives over the internet, yet there still seems to be a barrier that prevents patients from feeling 100% comfortable using online healthcare services. That’s something we need to change.

My dad is a typical example of a Lloydspharmacy customer. He’s retired and wants to spend his time doing the things he loves, not popping into town to pick up his medicine. He’d rather be out on the golf course, or seeing his family. Until recently, he had no idea that he could arrange to have his repeat prescriptions delivered directly to his home. In just a few clicks, he’d saved himself hours of valuable time.

The convenience of prescription deliveries is clear. It’s a customer need that we’re determined to meet. We need to move away from environment-centric healthcare and give patients the choice to decide how they want to interact with us, whether that’s online, in store or through an app.

Before we can do this, we need to break down the preconceptions that patients have about community pharmacy. We need to build trust and awareness among them so they feel not only comfortable, but inspired by the possibility of managing their health online. That’s why Lloydspharmacy recently sent hundreds of our head office colleagues into pharmacies to start these conversations with customers.

The future of pharmacy needs to be seamless. Patients should be able to switch easily between our digital and physical services to find out what works best for them. We know there are four things our patients value above all else: convenience, simplicity, expertise and a personal touch. Until recently, it wasn’t possible to guarantee those things from a pharmacy experience, but now it should be – and we’re investing a lot in developing a truly omni-channel, patient-centric service.

We also know that the role of our pharmacists must change to become more clinical, which has been highlighted once again by the five-year funding contract. Lloydspharmacy has almost 3,000 highly skilled healthcare professionals in our pharmacies, ready to deliver more services, but the only way to free them up to deliver these is by taking some of the repeat prescription workload away and encouraging customers to go online to manage their medicines.

So many communities rely on advice and services from their local pharmacies. Managing prescriptions online can’t replace that, but instead can empower pharmacy teams. We see our digital health services as an enabler for community pharmacies to play an even bigger role in supporting the NHS and improving our nation’s health.

Toby Anderson is chief executive officer of Lloydspharmacy’s parent company McKesson UK. Read his exclusive interview with C+D.


C A, Community pharmacist

"The only way to free them up to deliver these is by taking some of the repeat prescription workload away"


The problem I have with this is the corresponding reduction in staffing hours, if you lose a FTE there isn't anyone to "free up" (or at least one less to free up), and everyone else has to run to stand still.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

In my opinion, he is going to have a hard sell to his staff to promote the app.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

'Empowerment' on £8 an hour. Interesting concept......

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

I wonder if this guy actually knows the definition of empowerment.

Martin crisp, Director

The Lloyds CEO should ask the staff in the pharmacies what they feel about echo. If a patient signs up for echo why do they need to go to the store. Fewer customers in store mean less need for staff, therefore less jobs. Lloyds invested in massive expensive robots which are underused, this is driving the programme. Lastly most customers are aware of pharmacy to you. If they want to use a remote pharmacy system they are likely to go for that one.

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

What planet is he on ?????

*This comment has been edited to comply with C+D's community principles*


A Hussain, Senior Management

Let me tell you this.  The average Lloydspharmacy patient does not spend their free time on the golf course.

Bob Dunkley, Locum pharmacist

Mr Anderson will not have so much to enthuse about shortly as Lloyd's parent company McKesson has been hit by a massive $240million fine for its part in the opiate addiction scandal in the States. 

That's a drop in the ocean for them, the whole McKesson group has revenue in the hundreds of billions. Lloyds retail pharmacy is only a tiny portion of the company, they won't be affected. Poor service and understaffing from what I've seen puts patients off using lloyds pharmacies.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Won't his dad now have to stay in for half a day at least, waiting for the driver to arrive when he could nip to his local  and pick his script up in ten minutes? (Unless Lloyds now deliver to golf courses. Wouldn't put it past 'em)

Trouble is, once you sign up, they have you by the short and curlies. It's nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with finance.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

I wonder if Mr Anderson would be kind enough to tell us what these “clinical services” that he eulogises about actually are? How will they be funded, especially in the long term, and, most importantly, how will the revenue they may generate come close to replacing the sums lost to community pharmacies with the move of repeat dispensing to online factories? 

“to free them up to deliver these (services).....”

Nothing more than a cynical euphemism for corporate cost cutting by further community pharmacist devaluation and redundancy methinks.

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