Digital pharmacies seem to be springing up everywhere. Allowing patients to order medications online and get delivery via Fed-Ex or the mail does offer time savings. Still, without a significant value (lower costs), they may not find an audience.
Using CVS.com, patients can order medications online and, for a small charge, even deliver them. It’s convenient for most but having a CVS pharmacy on almost every street corner allows patients to use drive-throughs to pick up their medications.
CVS is competing against several start-up pharmacies that have no physical locations. Of course, they may offer medication consulting online, but, as someone who had a lot of packages delayed by carriers, you’re putting your trust in the mail or the Fed-Ex driver.
First, it’s essential to understand that changes ARE coming to healthcare. Voters want lower drug prices, and McConnell will not be able to stop all legislation lowering drug prices. We’re also going to see changes at the retail level.
CVS has seen the future, and they envision a pharmacy as an immediate care facility. More innovation is also coming via “one-stop” healthcare. Facilities will have on-site blood labs, x-ray machines, and even MRIs. In addition to GPs, they have cardiologists and other medical staff. I used a facility like this in California, and it was a great convenience to have tests done almost immediately.
Where does this leave digital pharmacies? They may find a niche, but they won’t be able to evolve to meet the new consumers of healthcare. Some patients get to know their pharmacists or pharm techs very well, and this relationship can be a valuable resource. For example, when I complained about leg cramping after bike riding, my pharmacists suggested I switched statins and contacted my doctor to arrange a different medication.
I believe, overall, digital health has been over-hyped. Doctors still don’t trust the wearables’ data and want their tests, but digital health can inform patients and make them aware of potential health issues.
Digital health, and pharmacies, are filling temporary gaps, but many fail to view the integration strategically and plan for the future.