Insight
The digital health ecosystem: The rise of telemedicine and the role of pharmacy

Adam Hunter

Chief Commercial Officer

February 24, 2022
6 min read

Periodically, a whitepaper or ecosystem map will be published to break down the healthtech ecosystem in a particular market.

Typically, these diagrams will cover sectors such as pharma/drug discovery, diagnostics, clinical systems to patient-facing services such as telemedicine. However,often these ecosystem maps stop at this point. Generally, there is no consideration provided within these ecosystem diagrams beyond the consultation and prescription stages.

From a patient perspective, after they have been diagnosed with a particular condition, their attention will turn to accessing care or treatment. To create a truly end-to-end digital health ecosystem, the role of pharmacy must be considered.

However, what is the role of the pharmacy sector in the digital age? Generally, the pharmacy sector runs on legacy platforms, and there can be a hesitancy to adopt new technology to deliver pharmacy services to patients.

From our perspective, pharmacy plays a vital role in realising the vision of many to create a seamless digital healthcare experience for patients. But pharmacy needs to change. The sector needs to embrace not demonise technology and adopt different ways of providing this vital service.

The Rise of Telemedicine

Telemedicine/virtual consultations in the UK is still an ascent space; however, with the advent of Covid-19, the adoption of telemedicine within the NHS and private healthcare sectors has accelerated tenfold.  The telemedicine vertical within the healthcare ecosystem requires its pharmacy partners to be tech-enabled with a rapid delivery mechanism.

Telemedicine or virtual consultations provide a raft of benefits to patients and the healthcare sector:

 

Triage Service

Many consultations can now be done virtually to help identify those who require in-person attention and those managed virtually. From an NHS perspective, this has been crucial in reducing footfall during the pandemic, freeing up in-person consultations for those who need it most.  With the pandemic looking like it will be endemic very soon, we don’t see a scenario where “virtual” is not part of the patient journey.

Convenience

Virtual services in the NHS or private sector benefit from a comprehensive virtual consultation offering. From a patient perspective, you can access and hopefully resolve an issue from the comfort of your own home—no need to travel to surgery and take time off work for an appointment. From a clinician’s point of view, you can have a more flexible work-life with the opportunity to be fully remote.

“Levelling – Up.”

Health inequalities in the UK are not new. The differences between services offered in a rural area and a densely populated place are well established. Telemedicine/virtual care can help level up access to services and clinicians.

The Role of Pharmacy

Virtual care is here to stay. It will only continue to grow as a provider of healthcare services in the UK. Therefore, the pharmacy sector must change to integrate more efficiently with this new reality. The expectations of clinicians/healthcare operators and patients have changed.

Nobody wants to print a physical prescription and provide a “wet” signature.  The sector expects pharmacies to embrace technology. Patient expectations have changed as well – walking to a pharmacy is not always the best solution for them, and they want flexibility/choice in accessing their medication. Accessing medication shouldn’t be complicated and embracing technology is critical for the sector.

The pharmacy sector needs to become digitally enabled. For example, seamless integration between other primary care providers and their pharmacy peers is vital.  There is a need for direct integration with healthcare operators to provide efficient, automated processes for patients, clinicians, and pharmacies in the healthcare sector. Paper prescriptions and fax machines should be consigned to history.

 

Phlo Connect – Pharmacy Infrastructure Platform

We noticed that the sector was falling behind with the developments in the broader health-tech ecosystem.  Many primary healthcare providers were offering digital consultations; however, the digital experience for patients stopped once the process moved to accessing medication.

Phlo Connect is an API driven pharmacy infrastructure platform filling the gaps in the digital patient experience. We see Phlo Connect as the pipes and plumbing of the digital healthcare ecosystem, a provider agnostic platform offering an end-to-end digital pharmacy experience coupled with rapid same-day delivery of prescriptions to patients.

There is a distinct group of patients who value convenience over everything. Ultimately patients are now demanding a pharmacy service reflective of their experiences in retail. They want an omnichannel offering, which is convenient and has home delivery at the centre of its offering.

 

Our platform can be tailored to the needs of you and your patients.  We work with some of the most advanced telemedicine providers globally, such as Babylon Health and HealthHero, to more traditional clinics like The Dermatology Partnership.

This service is a fundamental step forward for the pharmacy sector. It represents the future model for pharmacy and primary care providers to collaborate and offer patients a service fit for the 21stcentury.

 

If you want to learn more about our offering at Phlo Connect, please get in touch.

Written by

Adam Hunter

Chief Commercial Officer

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