Now that Amazon has announced plans to fulfill prescription medications online, with home delivery, how will community pharmacies keep up on price and convenience?
According to a new article from CNBC, "Amazon is entering the pharmacy business with a new offering called Amazon Pharmacy, allowing customers in the United States to order prescription medications for home delivery, including free delivery for Amazon Prime members."
While this announcement could seem daunting to many pharmacists, it is important to keep in mind one enduring principle. And that is that pharmacies are essential. More so now than ever. With more than 90% of Americans living less than 5 miles from a community pharmacy, pharmacists were and are accessible to provide care so that patients still receive their medications, immunizations, consultations, and pharmacy services (including COVID-19 testing.)
While Amazon may be new to pharmacy, mail order pharmacy is not new and not for everyone. Mail order pharmacies claim convenience, but community pharmacies offer the same convenience while maintaining the personal touch which patients want and need. Here are three ways where community pharmacies can compete with Amazon Pharmacy:
1 – Convenience
While Amazon may be new to pharmacy, mail order pharmacy is not new and not for everyone. Mail order pharmacies claim convenience, but community pharmacies offer the same convenience while maintaining the personal touch which patients want and need.
Many community pharmacies currently or will soon offer prescription delivery services as well as curbside pickup.
Pharmacies also have access to state-of-the-art communication solutions that can keep them connected with their patients and the community at large. Secure text messaging and group texting (SMS) offers healthcare providers the fastest and easiest way to reach patients where they live - which is on their smartphones, these days. SMS open rates are as high as 98%. Most people won't respond to calls or voicemails from unknown senders but texts from an unknown number are 7 times more likely to get a response than a voicemail.
2 – Expertise
Patients rely on community pharmacists for medication fulfillment and also for their clinical expertise, personal connection, and clinical services, like immunizations and screenings.
Pharmacies are being called on for screenings and immunizations, including the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination, a service mail order pharmacies cannot provide.
Community pharmacies keep their communities healthy, and safety is of utmost importance. An effort is underway to help eliminate germs and improve cleanliness in practices and pharmacies to help keep patients and staff safer. Many are being forced to continually clean their clipboards and pens, counters and other surfaces, and furniture. But smarter pharmacies are skipping the paper process entirely by taking advantage of technology to capture patient information instantly. How? With electronic forms. They are texting links for patients to fill out their forms online to eliminate the need for clipboards and pens.
3 – Connections
A final way that community pharmacies have an advantage over Amazon is with their many healthcare connections. A community pharmacist is connected to doctors, hospitals, clinics, specialists, and a variety of other healthcare providers throughout each local community. They have built up relationships and can make recommendations. They have collaborated with so many providers in the past that they can handle almost every situation, even during a pandemic.
Technology improves on a community pharmacist's ability to speed up communication, eliminate errors, and reduce paperwork. They are able to electronically fax each other, send secure texts with PMI attached, and utilize secure video chat to consult with each other.
While Amazon is throwing its hat in the ring with an online pharmacy business, it will never be able to overcome the advantages that community pharmacies provide to their patients.
If your pharmacy is interested taking advantage of the available technology that will keep you out in front of the Amazon competition, reach out to Updox today. We'll help you keep patients and staff safer and we'll help you communicate easily and securely with patients and other providers.