23rd April 2018

Not all pharmacy apps are born equal

Not all pharmacy apps are born equal

What with lots of pharmacy apps coming out lately all professing similar things we wanted to explain a fundamental difference between Dimec and every other pharmacy app, but hopefully in an informative way.

Pharmacy app providers are developing their own take on a pharmacy service, and of course there is a market for this. We consider ourselves market disrupters and often discuss market pressures etc with other like minded tech firms like Echo. We both look at the same issues from a different angle, so it’s great to chat about these things. At the end of the day, we’re both in business to better the lives of patients. 

A really easy, if somewhat bigheaded way to explain the difference is considering Microsoft vs Apple. Microsoft offers software for multiple hardware suppliers and allows third parties to easily build software on their operating system. Apple on the other hand own the whole customer experience, so link the product and software, closing the environment but thereby attempting to guarantee a minimum service level.

So consider Dimec as the Microsoft of this analogy. We’re the only pharmacy app that integrates with GP systems and is fully NHS Digital assured. This means that we work, at a cloud level, with your GP and pharmacy so we can enable every high street pharmacy in the app. However this also means that we’re not responsible for your medicines being dispensed so cannot offer prescription customer service, just technical support.

Nearly every other app tries to offer the Apple service, whereby, when you use the app, their pharmacy orders, dispenses and posts out the medicines for you. The apps themselves do not connect to your GP record and you have to enter all your medicines manually. Some companies like Echo operate this model very well with an emphasis on great customer service, and for some people this is just what they’re after. Other companies like Pharmacy2U or Well – the big pharmacy chains and not disruptive tech companies – struggle to separate a modern tech focussed service from century old pharmacy service approaches.

There’s one big stumbling block though, and that is that many local health authorities (CCGs) have banned pharmacies sending orders on behalf of patients in a view to cut medicines waste. There’s a degree of evidence behind this but a fair argument could actually be made for both sides, so the “right or wrong” bit really is a debate for another day.

At our last point of research, nearly 60% of CCGs had banned or were promoting against pharmacy ordering. So this means that if you use another pharmacy app, there’s a 60% chance that after you enter all your medicines and push “send” that the pharmacy can’t process your order. The most irritating bit for both the pharmacy and the user is that the surgeries don’t always drop you [pharmacy and/or user] a line to let you know that they don’t process these sorts of orders anymore. This is understandable though as we know that GP staff are stretched, but it does mean that pharmacies operating this process are always chasing orders and their statuses.

However with Dimec, we integrate directly with the GP system so your order; your patient-initiated order (that’s the buzz phrase) is placed directly into your Doctor’s digital workflow for him or her to sign. And with our NHS Cloud integration you can select any high street pharmacy you want it to go to too. The prescription then drops down to the pharmacy the same way it would as if you used any other service provider (the Electronic Prescription Service).

In fact, you can use Dimec to order to your local Well pharmacy if you want, and you never have to worry about CCG ordering rules. If you want your prescription delivered in the post, then you can chose a pharmacy on Dimec that can provide that service too.

We can’t offer the prescription customer service for the volume of users that we have, it’s just not physically possible as there are too many stakeholders (User/Patient, GP, Pharmacy, Dimec) in the process, but we can make it as seamless as possible leveraging every level of NHS integration. If you do have a question about your medication/prescription, then get in touch with your pharmacy (their contact details are in the App); they’re best placed to help you. If you have technical issues and need help using the App, or have spotted a bug, then get in touch and we’d be delighted to help.

We hope that this has explained the difference, and we invite you to choose. 

Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you next time.

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