Between 2019 to 2024 the e-Pharmacy market is expected to increase by 15.2%. The pharmacy market is increasingly being driven by internet consumers. One of the fastest growing segments is pharmacy’s offering online consultations and e-prescriptions.
In many markets such as the UK, the government has provided scope for pharmacies to offer consultation and prescriptions online. This has seen major chains like Boots pharmacy offer online appointments. Even pharmacies that don’t offer online consultation, can benefit from the e-Pharmacy market by providing online booking for in-pharmacy appointments.
The move towards online pharmacy booking and e-consultations is being driven by larger technological and sociological trends. Convenience is becoming increasingly important, because many people are working longer hours than ever before. In a recent study it was shown that in the UK the number of people who worked more than 48 hours a week increased by 15% between 2010 and 2015. These workers simply don’t have the time to take out of their day to wait for an appointment at a pharmacy.
Technology is also impacting consumers’ thinking about booking services. On Demand apps have changed people’s expectations about ordering services. This is particularly true amongst young, urban professionals. According to studies 47% of on demand-app users have an income over $75,000 per year and 49% of users are millennials.
As we’ll show in this guide, being able to book a pharmacy appointment has major advantages for both pharmacists and their clients.
Benefits of online booking appointments for clients
There are many different reasons why it can be advantageous to book an online appointment with a pharmacist. Some of the key reasons include:
Save on waiting time
Pharmacists are able to provide medicine for a wide range of minor but common health issues, including colds, sore throats, coughs and aches. Often you will be able to get a pharmacy appointment at the same time that you make the booking. Trying to obtain a doctors appointment may take significantly longer. Booking an online pharmacy appointment is therefore sometimes the fastest way of getting treatment for a health issue.
Advise on further treatment options
Pharmacists are trained to guide people towards further treatment options, if they can’t provide medicine following the appointment. Having a pharmacist appointment can often be a more effective first step to diagnosing a health issue.
Open late and on weekends
Pharmacy’s will often be open later into the evening and during weekends. This makes them a more convenient option for people who are working during the day.
Obtain medicine immediately following your appointment
If you have a doctor’s appointment, then you will still typically need to visit to pick up the medication that has been prescribed. In contrast, following a pharmacy appointment you will immediately be able to obtain the required medicine. The convenience of a one-stop pharmacy appointment is a major benefit.
No waiting to see a pharmacist
While getting a walk-in appointment with a pharmacist is typically easier than seeing a doctor you may still have to wait. Making an appointment online, before visiting the pharmacy will ensure that you will be seen relatively quickly.
Reviews and testimonials
Booking an appointment online gives the client an opportunity to read reviews and testimonials about that pharmacist. This enables the customer to make a more informed decision about whether the pharmacist is the right fit for their circumstances.
A pharmacy appointment is of course not the right solution for every single type of medical problem. Visiting a doctor, hospital or emergency clinic is sometimes essential for more serious health conditions. But for more minor or non-urgent medical problems then making a pharmacy appointment can be a much more convenient and less costly option.
Benefits of offering online appointments for pharmacists
Becoming an appointment based pharmacy can have significant benefits for pharmacy’s as well as their clients. The convenience of online booking provides a competitive advantage over other pharmacies which do not offer this service. Here we’ll look at why having online booking can help to grow a pharmacy’s appointments without creating more administrative work.
- Reduce administrative work for staff – Being an online appointment based pharmacy to grow the number of appointments that are taken on, without creating more customer service or administrative work for employees. Firstly, by having online booking in place customers don’t need to call or email in order to make an appointment. Booking forms will obtain all of the requisite information that is needed for the appointment. These appointments can then be set to be approved automatically or manually.
- Provide customers with the information they need – With Bookly all appointments will be confirmed by either SMS or email. These notifications contain all of the key details about the appointment, including the date, time and location. This ensures that clients are able to conveniently access the information that they need. Bookly allows pharmacies to include a link where the client can cancel their appointment. Having this option means that clients don’t need to call the pharmacy when they need to change their appointment. In addition, automated notifications via SMS and email can be set up. These remind the client about their appointment and ensures that appointments are not missed. Clients can also be provided with their own individual account details. Using these the client will be able to access the details of their appointment when it is needed.
- Clients can make appointments at any time – With online booking clients are able to book an appointment at any time of the day. And because Bookly booking forms are mobile optimised it is just as easy for clients to make an appointment booking using their phone, as on their computer. This makes online booking the perfect option for people with full-time jobs that restrict their ability to call to make an appointment.
- Seamlessly match up with the pharmacy calendar – Bookly has a calendar function where pharmacists can enter their availability. Clients will only be able to make an online appointment when there is a pharmacists available to see them. Appointment confirmation can be setup so the individual pharmacist is notified by email when an appointment time has been requested. They can then choose to approve these pending appointments. Bookly even integrates with the popular Google or Outlook calendar. This means that when an appointment is made in Bookly, it can be immediately reflected in these calendars as well. If the pharmacy calendar already being used is Google or Outlook calendar, they can continue to do so to manage their appointments.
- Set-up recurring appointments – Many health issues necessitate recurring appointments at a pharmacy. If you are using Bookly, then offering a recurring appointment option for your clients is easy. When a client books the initial appointment they can select how often they need that appointment to reoccur. Bookly’s system will then try and schedule appointments at the required interval at a time which most closely matches their original appointment. If the pharmacist that they have booked the initial appointment is not available for subsequent appointment, then an appointment will be made with another available pharmacist.
- Provide mobile booking – 50% of all mobile search is targeted towards services and products provided by local businesses. Consumers are now able to purchase and book almost any product or service using their smartphones. They have an expectation that making medical appointments should likewise be available through their smartphones. Bookly uses fully mobile optimised forms. This means that when a person accesses the pharmacy website using a smartphone, the mobile optimised version of the booking form will be displayed. Having a properly mobile optimised form makes appointment booking much easier for the client and in turn helps to increase the number of booked appointments.
- Create custom fields – There may be specific information that is useful for a pharmacist to provide a consultation. Obtaining this information in advance of the appointment saves time for both the pharmacist and the client. With Bookly it is possible to create add different custom fields including multiple choice, text fields, drop down lists and more. The details provided by the client will then be added to their reservation inside of the Bookly calendar.
- Setup waiting lists – During busy times, the pharmacy’s schedule may fill out. At the same time, there will always be clients that either cancel or need to modify their appointment time. Bookly allows pharmacies to offer their clients a waiting list. If an appointment time is not available the client can be requested to be added to the waiting list for their desired time. If that appointment time later becomes available, they will automatically be added to the booking slot and notified by email or SMS. This provides a greater level of convenience for pharmacists clients, while streamline the process of managing appointments.
- Facilitate appointments at multiple locations – Many pharmacies that want to offer online booking will be multi-location. Bookly enables the user to book for a specific location through a single form. This means that the pharmacy can have a website which serves all of its location, but still allow customers to book at the pharmacy which is most convenient for them to visit.
- Let customers upload prescription or other documentation – Bookly allows clients to upload documents when they make their appointment. This can be a useful feature if your pharmacy offers a-prescription. It also makes sure that clients are able to provide any relevant documentation prior to their appointment. Files uploaded via Bookly are viewable through that clients reservation details. Employees at the pharmacy can also add or delete documents to the reservation manually.
- Detailed analytics – According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, data driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire a customer, compared to those that don’t use analytics. An online booking solution like Bookly gives pharmacists access to rich data insights, which can be used to run the pharmacy more efficiently. Bookly comes with built-in analytics which show how many people are booking appointments, which employees are producing the most bookings and more.
Offering online consultations to clients
As detailed in the introduction one of the biggest trends in the pharmacy industry is the growth towards e-consultations. E-consultations have a number of benefits for patients including:
- Privacy – People are often reluctant to discuss their medical issues face-to-face with a pharmacist. Consequently, they would often prefer to be able to discreetly book an appointment and then have their consultation delivered online or by phone. The medication purchased can be sent to the purchasers home.
- Convenience – Many people are working longer hours than they did in the past. This is particularly true of higher income earners. These people have the ability to pay for products and services, but put a premium on convenience. This is exactly what online consultations can provide. Using an online booking form users can make their appointment whenever they want. That e-consultation can then be accessed by the client from any location.
- Home delivery – Once the e-consultation is complete the client enters their payment details and delivery address. The medication can then be sent to their home or office. Overall, this makes the entire process of obtaining appropriate medication very convenient for the client.
For pharmacies this opens up a whole new market. In the past pharmacies were largely limited to servicing their local area. By offering online e-consultations, pharmacies can market to much larger geographic areas with a growing customer segment who prefer privacy and convenience.
In short, there is a market of younger, affluent and technology savvy consumers, that pharmacy’s would be well served marketing to. These consumers want the convenience and privacy that online pharmacy booking and e-consultations provided. Providing these services is not only a win for consumers, but also can help pharmacies grow their market reach, while lowering administrative requirements. Pharmacies that leverage technology that is available, will have a serious competitive advantage over the next five years.