In this roundtable discussion, BestRx’s Hemal and Vikas Desai and Stephen Barnes discuss the direction that pharmacy delivery services are taking. Learn about the latest tools, the rise of third-party delivery partners, and how to decide which delivery model fits your pharmacy.
Hemal Desai: Independent pharmacies have been leaders when it comes to prescription delivery, and it continues to be very important. Consumers are used to having everything delivered these days, whether it’s meals from Grubhub or DoorDash, or everyday items from Amazon or Walmart. Consumers begin to wonder, “If I can get everything else delivered, why not my prescriptions as well?”
Vikas Desai: Traditionally, it’s been pharmacies in high-population urban areas or ones that work with long-term care facilities that offer this service. From our perspective, we believe that almost every pharmacy should offer delivery service for its customers. Many younger professionals and young families with children are just too busy to visit the pharmacy, so they need delivery at home or to their workplace. We’re used to seeing independents be the leaders when it comes to delivery in the marketplace but we’re also seeing more and more chains starting to adapt and add delivery. I think it’s very important for independents to continue to lead the way when it comes to delivery service.
CT: What’s BestRx offering its pharmacies to support delivery?
Hemal Desai: We have a lot of different options, from the simplest — with not too much technology involved — to the very robust. For pharmacies that just want to keep it simple, we offer the ability to print delivery tickets to collect paper signatures. Then we also have our own delivery apps that work on any iOS or Android device. These are a big step up in functionality, since they allow you to schedule deliveries, notify drivers to come pick up the prescriptions, and collect electronic signatures. For pharmacies that don’t want to manage their own delivery drivers, we have integrations with multiple delivery services such as ScriptDrop, UDS, and iOmni. Finally, BestRx integrates with FedEx and UPS to support mailing prescriptions to patients.
CT: What are some examples of delivery challenges?
Stephen Barnes: One good example is being able to prove a prescription was delivered to the patient. The most common way of doing this is by collecting a signature.. If you don’t have a good process for this, you create audit risk. Another example is the challenge of determining which deliveries make economic sense for your pharmacy. Can you afford the per-stop charge from a third-party service? Does this mean that you need to set a base for the value of a delivery or only deliver within a certain area? Do you have a process for collecting money owed by a patient for the delivery? How can you plan efficient delivery routes and track delivery progress to ensure that drivers are accountable?
Technology solves a lot of these problems. With our delivery offerings, you can indicate within BestRx if a prescription requires a signature based on criteria such as the medication or price point. Our delivery app can collect payments in the field or let the driver know if an order was paid for in advance.
CT: And then there’s Amazon and PillPack, right?
Hemal Desai: Right. As Amazon begins to scale with PillPack, it’s important for independent pharmacies to keep pushing ahead with their customer service and delivery options. We have no doubt that independent pharmacies can provide the same convenience with better customer service, building a strong pharmacy-patient connection you’ll never get with PillPack.
CT: Does BestRx only support prescription delivery, or can you also support the delivery of OTC (over the counter) items?
Stephen Barnes: The ability to schedule and track OTC deliveries is one of the features that helps us stand out against our competitors’ offerings. OTC items can be delivered on the same order as a patient’s prescriptions. However, during conversations I’ve had with our customers, it’s clear that many of them have not thought about the opportunity available in delivering OTC items along with prescriptions. Most pharmacists think along the lines of getting prescriptions out the door, but not about ways to increase the overall shopping basket to offset declining prescription reimbursement.
Hemal Desai: This process doesn’t just happen. The conversation needs to be initiated by the pharmacy. Pharmacists know what nutrients are being depleted or what side effects medications can cause. For example, a pharmacist can recommend a calcium supplement in conjunction with a medication. Or recommend sunscreen for those medications causing heightened sun-sensitivity. Bottom line, the pharmacy needs to ask in order to uncover the opportunity.
Vikas Desai: Another great way to increase profitability through OTC delivery is to recommend the private label product instead of the name-brand. Typically, these items have greater profit margin for the pharmacy, and the price point will be more competitive for the patient. By asking a few more questions, you are making your customer’s lives more convenient, you are increasing your overall sale, and you are increasing your profit margin. With BestRx and our delivery app, we tie that all in for our customers. CT