Pharmacies: Time to ‘Embrace the Future’
Also featured: Amazon and others forge ahead, latest on COVID, and more
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.
Today’s $1.25 trillion, ever-advancing pharmaceutical industry is juggling change and turbulence, time-conscious consumers and new competition from e-commerce giants like Amazon. Can community pharmacies survive?
In a Forbes piece, Yasser Almuaala, CEO of Prestige Health Solutions, says, “For independent pharmacies to compete, they will have to embrace the future. From my perspective, the traditional pharmacy model is outdated and losing appeal. Today’s consumers do not want to wait in lines or make several trips. The modern consumer is time-conscious — and rightly so as we enter the on-demand era.”
He cites three steps these pharmacies can take:
• Cater to your community. Personalized services, personal consultations and more can provide additional support to the community and be new sources of revenue.
• Offer on-demand solutions. Add value and convenience by offering services outside of the “brick-and-mortar” pharmacy, which customers can access from home.
• Consider using technology to enhance operations. Interactive technology, mobile apps and other features can boost operations and the customer experience.
Meanwhile, the estimated 155,000 pharmacists working at chain pharmacies are pushed to do more with less. Working faster, filling more orders and doing more with less staff is even more complicated with the addition of administering COVID vaccines. Pharmacists and techs interviewed in 15 states described “an industry of healthcare professionals at the breaking point.”
• The Biden White House is launching a wide-reaching, $1.5 billion TV, radio and digital advertising blitz to boost confidence in COVID vaccines. The campaign will address access, apathy and skepticism in three targeted groups — people of color, young people and conservatives.
• Folks who get their vaccines at Walmart or Sam’s Club may soon be able to access their digital health records — including vaccination verification — on their smartphones. To do so, the retail giant is working with The Project Common and an identity management platform.
• What were the most useful technologies for hospitals responding to the pandemic? According to research from several American hospitals with a history of using health information technology, three technologies topped the list. They included:
• Tracking real-time bed capacity during patient surges with EHRs • Using hard-stop alerts to respond to medication shortages • Accessing telehealth and other remote capabilities to lower the number of patients at the hospital.
Big business: Amazon (and others) forge ahead
Amazon’s new virtual health service benefit — launched last year for its Seattle-area employees — is set to expand nationwide. The tech giant plans to offer it to all of its U.S. employees this summer, as well as to other companies.
The on-demand healthcare service provides virtual visits, in-person primary care visits at home and prescription delivery. Launching Amazon Care nationally marks the first time Amazon puts a stake in the ground in healthcare delivery itself, not just devices or pills.
The sweeping expansion is expected to keep other telemedicine companies on their toes.
Google, too, is expanding its healthcare-related offerings. It just added a new sleep-sensing component to Nest Hub, its smart display device.
What’s in a name?
In an effort to determine if a zippy name affects perceptions of a drug’s effectiveness, the FDA is launching a new study. It will query 500 consumers and 500 healthcare providers about fictional “extreme and neutral” drug names, and how they influence perceptions.
This and that
• A study of 100 hospitals found 65 of them “unambiguously noncompliant” when it comes to federal price transparency rules.
• A federal judge has blocked the government from imposing a hotly contested rule involving disputes over a program that provides discounted drugs to hospitals and clinics.
Rx tip of the week
In the mood for spring cleaning? Consider tackling your medicine cabinet, too. Here are a few tips: Check expiration dates on everything, including ointments and supplements. Discard outdated products. Get rid of prescription meds that are more than one year old. And ditch anything that’s not in its original container. For advice on how to dispose of prescription medications safely, talk with your pharmacist.
—Eric Wu, ScriptHero clinical pharmacist
This article is intended for informational purposes only and not intended to be medical advice, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any healthcare questions, please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call your physician or dial 911 immediately.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and not intended to be medical advice, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any healthcare questions, please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call your physician or dial 911 immediately.
About the author
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 April 20, 2021