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The Rise of Online Pharmacies: What they Mean for Healthcare

Telehealth is the future of healthcare, and the pandemic is responsible for many of the innovations and tools we commonly use today. Before the pandemic, getting video calls and appointments with your physician was almost impossible. Today, it’s a standard option and a great choice for those looking for advice or needing mental health help. No, video appointments won’t negate the need for in-person care. Still, if you can call up a professional to ask about a non-emergency concern, your doctor can recommend a holistic treatment or even refer you to the right place if they think you may need a specialist or a test. 

Then, of course, there are online pharmacies. You don’t need to go to a doctor and have a prescription for many items. Birth control, for example, requires a simple questionnaire to be filled out, and then you’re good to go most of the time. 

Online pharmacies don’t even stop at human healthcare, either. Pet owners have increasingly been turning to online pharmacies to get better deals on ongoing pet healthcare, like flea and tick medication, to dewormers or bandages. 

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Online pharmacies and dispensaries make it more convenient to get the items you need, can help patients save by offering more competitive rates, and can also make it a cinch to keep taking medication or treatments on time. Online pharmacies have also made accessing medications more accessible to those who struggle to get out of the house to travel to the pharmacy to get their prescriptions filled in person. Having medication delivered directly to the home saves a lot of stress for many, allowing them to carry on with their treatments without having any disruptions.

Healthcare has changed, and it’s going to continue to change. The rise in popularity of online pharmacies is just the begging of healthcare. These online stores are a clear adoption of telehealth, and are one of the primary ways that telemedicine will become more predominant in how the industry operates. 

Telehealth and Online Pharmacies 

Online pharmacies are just one of the many ways that telehealth has become more pervasive and widespread in the last few years. While pharmacies were very much physical spaces in the past, that is no longer the case. Customers can have their prescriptions fulfilled by online providers which can give them far more options in terms of provider. Online health providers range from supplements, where you can order probiotics online, all the way to full-scale medical pharmacies, where you can order your birth control or blood pressure medication. This way, customers can save by buying direct, making the online pharmacy model far more exciting for those who require ongoing prescriptions. 

Of course, there are some issues if your prescriptions are fulfilled by your insurance or the national healthcare service. Further integration is essential so that these online prescriptions work in tandem with traditional ones. 

The Rise of Online Pharmacies 

Online pharmacies are quickly becoming the go-to way for patients to get the necessary medication and supplies. Since the pandemic, online pharmacy dispensing has grown by 45% in the UK. In real terms, this means that online pharmacies dispensed a shocking 42 million items in 2020. In 2019, they only sent out 29 million items. This occurred despite pharmacies being an essential service and open for business throughout lockdowns. 

In the US, the total market revenue for direct-to-patient pharmacies is expected to grow by 19% in the next few years. This, along with other key trends, shows a steady shift in how healthcare operates. For a long time, professionals have disparaged the centralized nature of healthcare as a whole. Online pharmacies are just one of the ways that healthcare can become decentralized. After all, customers can get the medication they need right to their homes – wherever that may be. At the very least, they can have it sent somewhere they can easily pick it up. This can be a game-changer for those who have more than a half-hour commute to get to a pharmacy. 

The fact is, online pharmacies offer a variety of benefits that their in-store counterparts simply cannot. The first is convenience. It will always be more convenient to have items shipped directly to you, especially if there’s a drive and, increasingly, a parking fee when you go to pick up your medication. 

Online pharmacies also have the ability to send out repeat prescriptions without the need to in and pick them up or even get them renewed. You’ll likely need to fill out a questionnaire and might have an online video appointment with a medical professional, but these can all be done easily between tasks and responsibilities. 

How Online Pharmacies Can Improve 

Online pharmacies can still improve simply by using machine learning and simple AI programs to customize the patient’s experience. If the medication in question is something that could feasibly be taken regularly, like allergy medication, probiotic supplement, or birth control, offering reminders when their prescription would have run out is a smart, effective way to boost sales and ensure patients continue to have the medication or product they need. 

Online pharmacies also need to integrate more fully with other telehealth services. Doctors should be able to write a digital prescription you can then use easily to get the medication you need online, through your insurance, or at the national healthcare subsided price, depending on where you’re located. 

There is still a lot of room for online pharmacies to grow. Still, their potential has been established that the ease with which those – particularly the elderly – can get the medication, vitamins, and supplements that they need is a driving factor. 

In essence, online pharmacies must put their patients in charge and make it easy. Sending reminders to order a repeat prescription and allowing them to cancel or change a delivery day can profoundly impact a person’s ability to manage their health. All of this, of course, must come alongside increased IT security. The largest threat to telehealth’s adoption and integration is the increased risk of security threats, which is why greater investment into our digital infrastructure as a whole is a must. 

Healthcare Business Today is a leading online publication that covers the business of healthcare. Our stories are written from those who are entrenched in this field and helping to shape the future of this industry. Healthcare Business Today offers readers access to fresh developments in health, medicine, science, and technology as well as the latest in patient news, with an emphasis on how these developments affect our lives.

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