The future of pharmacy needs to be seamless for customers

“We’re moving from environment-centric healthcare to patient-centric healthcare”, says McKesson UK CEO, Toby Anderson.

It’s already 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 for people, preventing them from feeling 100% comfortable using online healthcare services. That’s something we need to change.

I think of my own dad who is a pretty typical example of a LloydsPharmacy customer. He’s retired now and wants to spend his time doing the things he loves, not popping into town to pick up his medicine every few weeks. He’d much rather be out of 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’s been able to save himself hours of valuable time.

This convenience and simplicity are clear and obvious customer needs that we’re determined to meet. With the power of our LloydsPharmacy brand, alongside the skill and expertise at both Echo and the wider McKesson organisation, we believe we can create something truly customer-focussed. 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 that, we need to break down the walls of preconception that dictate what customers expect from their community pharmacy. We need to build trust and awareness among consumers so that they feel not only comfortable but inspired by the possibility of being able to manage their health online. That’s why we recently sent hundreds of our head office colleagues into stores to start these conversations with customers.

The future of pharmacy needs to be seamless. People should be able to switch easily between our digital and physical services to find what works best for them. We know that there are four things our customers 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 new funding contract. We have almost 3,000 highly skilled healthcare professionals in our pharmacies, ready to deliver more services. The only way we can free them up to do that 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 the advice and services they receive from their local pharmacy. Managing prescriptions online can’t replace that, but instead can empower it. 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.