The Global Health Crisis is Speeding up Pharmacies' Moves Toward Digital Technology
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Nov 23, 2020, 08:50 ET
NEW YORK, Nov. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- 2020 has brought about an unprecedented situation in the healthcare industry and changed the way we look at healthcare. Some of the biggest pharmacy retail companies in the world are now implementing changes to make accessing medicine easier and safer. Pharmacies are integrating technology that allows patients to track their vitals and fill their prescriptions. These platforms also help patients receive more of their care remotely, limiting the spread of potential contagions, all while facilitating strong lines of communication between doctors, pharmacists, patients, and insurers. As the needs of patients change in a post-COVID world, pharmacy chains are turning to healthcare technology companies to revolutionize their businesses. The biggest names in the pharmaceutical retail industry are making these upgrades, including Kroger Co (NYSE:KR), CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS), Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NASDAQ:WBA), and UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE:UNH). Meanwhile, technology companies like Carebook Technologies Inc. (TSXV:CRBK) (FRA:PMM1) are making this transition possible.
Carebook Technologies Establishes Digital Health Solutions
Carebook Technologies Inc. (TSXV:CRBK) (FRA:PMM1) is working to build turnkey digital health solutions for established stakeholders in the healthcare industry, including pharmacies, insurance providers, governments, and businesses. Pharmacies are increasingly reliant on mobile solutions rather than in-person visits to the storefront, and Carebook specializes in providing the white-label platforms to facilitate this transition using a Software-as-a-Service licensing model. The company's platforms can connect consumers with pharmacies, clinics, and employers while supporting multiple revenue streams through modular features. To design these specialised platforms, Carebook has put together a team of engineering, design, and digital engagement experts, as well as advisors from the pharmacy and healthcare industry.
In 2018, Carebook partnered with major Canadian pharmacy chain Rexall, part of the McKesson Corporation, to build a customer-facing mobile platform. On May 1 2020, Rexall launched the Be Well Pharmacy app on iOS, Android, and desktop web browsers, which is built on Carebook's pharmacy platform. The app, which is available for download, allows consumers to make pickup orders from nearby Rexall locations and schedule prescription fill-ups, submit new prescriptions using a photo, access personal health and medical history, and earn loyalty rewards for purchases.
In response to the ongoing public health crisis, Carebook has also designed a health-tracking platform for individuals and employers. Called Carebook My Vitals, the app uses ordinary smartphone cameras to detect blood volume changes of microvessels in the face, using that data to monitor vital signs. The app utilizes algorithms and AI to get the results in three easy steps. First, patients are asked to do a quick assessment/survey, then the Carebook My Vitals app performs a vital scan. Finally, the app provides guidance on next steps, whether that is returning to work or staying home and isolating.
Retail Pharmacy Industry Moves to Digital Health Solutions
Last year, CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) signaled its own move towards digital health. At an analyst meeting in June 2019, the company announced plans to purchase managed care company Aetna and use Aetna's data reach to modernize the company as a whole. CVS also intends to build a consumer-focused tech-enabled digital experience combining artificial intelligence with virtual care services.
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NASDAQ:WBA) is looking to upgrade its digital services in direct response to the public health crisis. The company already had an existing digital platform prior to 2020 that gave customers access to telehealth features through partnerships with MDLive and Amwell, but Walgreens co-COO Alex Gourlay said in October that the company will be expanding these resources.
In 2019, Walgreens and Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) announced that the two retail chains would be partnering up in an effort to modernize both company's pharmacy operations. The partnership is part of Kroger's broader efforts to modernize its grocery stores, including in-store pharmacies with improvements such as enhanced online shopping options.
UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE:UNH), which operates mail order pharmacy OptumRx, acquired digital pharmacy DivvyDose in September. DivvyDose uses a model that is similar to PillPack by Amazon, shipping subscribers presorted packages of medication with instructions for easy use.
Ongoing global events have forced the expedition of the retail pharmacy industry's transition into the digital space, and companies like Carebook Technologies Inc. are leading this transition. While some of these developments were made in direct response to the crisis, developments that make accessing medicine easier and safer are likely to stick around long after.
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