Should You Worry About Delays to Your Prescription Deliveries?

Also in this issue: online pharmacies, COVID healthcare trends, pharmacies expanding care, tip of the week

Editor’s note: Welcome to The PostScript Rewind, a biweekly recap of the latest in healthcare news. Featuring what you need to know — none of what you don’t.

The U.S. Postal Service may be living up to its “snail mail” moniker these days, but what do mail delays really mean?

A lot, especially if that’s how you get your prescriptions.

• The U.S. Postal Service ships 1.2-billion prescriptions a year — or about 4 million each day, six days a week. A lof of Americans rely on the mail to get their prescriptions, in other words, and doctors say delays could put their lives in jeopardy.

Operational changes at the Postal Service mean some patients are already going without.

• Getting prescriptions by mail increased 20 percent in March as COVID outbreaks spread.

• Many of those affected are veterans and seniors.

• Sen. Elizabeth Warren launched an investigation into the prescription delays.

“A delay in receiving a necessary prescription could be life-threatening.” -American College of Physicians[1]

So what should you do if you’re worried about prescription-delivery delays?

Experts say don’t ration meds or take fewer pills to “save up.”

Instead, talk to your doctor.

Perhaps they can write a prescription for a larger supply of your medication to have on hand (if insurance will cover it). Or think about switching to a local pharmacy for now.

Prescriptions: Just a click away?

More than just a box by your front door — Amazon is piloting its online pharmacy in India.

With a trial in Bangalore, the Amazon Pharmacy offers prescription drugs, OTC meds and some healthcare devices. But it’s getting some push-back.

E-pharmacies are gaining popularity, though, with convenience a key advantage. Baby-boomers especially seem to favor the trend — expected to be a $155.4-billion industry by 2026.

Your pharmacy, 2.0

The corner drugstore? Now it’s much more than a place to pick up your meds, a magazine and a tube of mascara. Consider:

• Pharmacists in all 50 states can give childhood vaccines to kids over three without a prescription. Pediatricians, though, criticize the move.

• Consumers are loving the new services popping up at retail pharmacies. CVS, Walgreens and Walmart are all expanding into new health and wellness offerings.

• And as flu season nears, drugstores like CVS and Walgreens are gearing up for an onslaught of flu-vaccine demand. A national flu-shot campaign is seen as a “dry run” for a COVID vaccine scenario.

• Retailers like CVS are turning to technology — like email and text messaging and digital tracking — to better serve customers, while keeping their distance.

• Some bigger drugstore chains are even turning to Uber to deliver meds to customers.

COVID: changing healthcare

What are doctors saying about COVID’s big impacts?

Most feel the virus won’t be under control ’til January 2021. Almost half see it taking much longer. And since people are delaying routine care, 72 percent predict severe impacts on patient health.

The pandemic is also changing how docs practice. A recent survey showed high percentages of healthcare providers favor self-administration of care and remote monitoring.

Plus, “hospital at home” programs are taking off across the U.S. And employers around America are giving virtual care options the thumbs up.

Rx Tip of the Week

Shopping for a pharmacy? Here’s a tip on what to look for, from Eric Wu, ScriptHero clinical pharmacist:

“Your relationship with the pharmacy team is important, so find a pharmacy you can trust. A helpful pharmacy team can get to know you, and offer personalized guidance and support.”

• For more tips on choosing a pharmacy, check out our article, “Are You Going to the Right Pharmacy for Your Needs?”

Are you newly uninsured? Wondering what your options are? Find out how to apply for Medicaid and CHIP.

Learn More

Article bios

Victoria Ellwood is a writer and storyteller in central Ohio, where she writes about everything from academia, the arts and agriculture to healthcare, Shakespeare and small-town living. Her work’s been featured in Modern Farmer and magazines and websites for The Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences, College of Nursing, Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, University Libraries, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and Small Nation Strong.

This article was last updated August 31, 2020

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