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.