Australian-based MedAdvisor (ASX: MDR) will begin offering home delivery to customers as a way of reducing pharmacy to patient contact in a COVID-19 environment.
The company has announced it will proceed with Phase 1 of its service to help get much-needed medications to patients by allowing them to order, pay and request delivery from within the MedAdvisor app.
The initiative comes after the announcement of the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus package announced this month, which allocated $25 million for the delivery of much-needed medications from participating pharmacies to those at risk in the community such as the elderly, disabled, isolated and those with compromised immune systems.
Pharmacies are able to claim $5 per delivery from the government which can be facilitated through the MedAdvisor app.
MedAdvisor said all prescription, over-the-counter, front of shop and National Diabetes Services Scheme products can be ordered for delivery, with individual pharmacies retaining the right to decide which medications may be unsuitable for the service.
Patients can request and pay for their orders from within the MedAdvisor app and temporary measures have been introduced to avoid unnecessary contact with patients at the point of delivery.
MedAdvisor chief executive officer Robert Read said approximately 2000 pharmacies have activated the pay-in-advance functionality, allowing the company to generate revenue from merchant service fees on all transactions paid via the platform.
“Many pharmacies already offer some form of delivery to their community, often utilising a staff member as the delivery driver,” he said.
“This new initiative ensures people who are unable to leave their homes are not out of pocket at a time when they are more likely to be under increased financial stress.”
Approximately 30% of MedAdvisor’s 1.3 million app users are over 60 years of age and could be at higher risk if they were to purchase their medications in-store.
“We are playing a critical role in remote medicines management in Australia during this health crisis,” Mr Read said.
“By allowing free digital communications [we can] deepen vital relationships between patients and their regular pharmacist despite them not being physically in-store.”
He said MedAdvisor would allow pharmacies to utilise their own service or one of its preferred delivery partners.
Phase 2 of the service is scheduled for mid-April and will allow pharmacies to offer same-day delivery by leveraging MedAdvisor’s third party delivery provider Kings Transport which has coverage in all metropolitan regions.
Last week, MedAdvisor told shareholders it was well-funded to support pharmacies and app users during the COVID-19 disruption.
“For patients in need of chronic medication and for pharmacists supporting their local communities, there is little choice but to find a way to deal with an increasingly stressed system,” Mr Read said.
“We are uniquely placed to facilitate remote medicines management… a timely example of the enormous value that digital tools can play in the health system.”
He said MedAdvisor would facilitate the pre-ordering and payment of medications in advance to streamline pharmacy workflows and manage stock levels.
The company would also offer pharmacies a “significant temporary discount” to the costs of instant MedAdvisor app notifications to patients to reduce the in-store burden on pharmacists.
“To date, 57% of orders through our ordering platform occur outside normal business hours and we expect order volumes to increase significantly,” Mr Read said.
“We have [already] seen large increases in orders per pharmacy over the last week and particularly over the last two days.”