Article Originally posted on Retail Insider “Embrace E-commerce In Healthcare”

A group of British Columbia pharmacists has launched a new online drug store called EasyDrugs to provide free next day delivery of prescriptions and health products throughout B.C.

There is also the opportunity to have real-time virtual pharmacist consultations as well as by phone or by email or text messaging.

“The idea for this and starting the development began really near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. So back in March, April. There was this heightened and more urgent sense of a need to allow patients to be able to receive their prescriptions without leaving their home,” said Dr. Afshin Khazei, medical advisor and partner with the company.

The concept was created by a group of experienced, licensed pharmacists in B.C. who saw the need to accelerate the development of a next-day delivery of an online pharmacy for British Columbians in all corners of the province.

“That’s the initial idea that rose out of COVID-19 and the fact that people were encouraged not to leave their homes, but also there is a certain amount of fear, particularly in older patients, and older patients of course are those who often have more prescriptions that are more a critical need to make sure there are no interruptions in their prescriptions,” said Khazei.

“But beyond that kind of initial need for convenience and safety during isolation, we saw an opportunity to build in some innovative features into the app that are actually going to promote safety and quality around prescription use. It’s sort of beyond convenience and moving on to trying to use technology and innovation to actually improve safety and quality.”

The new service provides a single online system to make it easier to talk to a pharmacist, easier to order, reorder, and transfer prescriptions — and easier and quicker to receive them.

EasyDrugs operates via a website and smartphone app to connect people to their pharmacist and their prescriptions while also providing family members and caregivers the ability to manage the prescriptions of others, reducing needless visits and trips to the pharmacy.

The new service also features direct billing service with insurance providers and no cost shipping.

The service is available throughout B.C. but the vision does exist, said Khazei, potentially rolling out the idea to other parts of the country.

“We see a need for this across Canada but we want to make sure that we demonstrate excellence within the B.C. landscape first and then from there would scale up to go across Canada,” he added.

“I think there’s different reasons why different demographics would use it. The seniors would really come to mind immediately because it eliminates the need for a trip to a physical pharmacy, having to park, wait in the physical space for a prescription to be filled, and then driving home. So that convenience and some elements of safety in the context of a pandemic.

“But then when you look at some of the safety features once you create your profile it will save your medication prescription history and keeps it all on a consolidated medical profile. So that if you’re visiting multiple doctors or seeking care in an emergency department or ambulance visiting you, or you’re travelling outside of Canada, you can show whoever is looking after you, your current medication. This reduces the risk of preventable, adverse medication interactions if the care provider has full knowledge of your profile. You then can also enable family members, your physician, your nurse, other care providers that are in your circle of care, with your permission to co-manage your medication account. So they could help with things like doing refills and they also could help with communicating what you’re on. Really in essence it helps to co-manage and keep everyone on the same page.”

Another interesting element, he said, is the ability to enable text reminders which would send people a text at the time of day when medications need to be taken.

“It addresses a very common issue in medication use which is compliance. We know that a significant number of patients don’t remember to take their medication on time or even take it at all.”