After-hours meds delivery trial for Toowoomba

A pharmacy in Toowoomba is trialling an after-hours prescription home delivery service with the financial assistance of the Darling Downs South West Queensland (DDSWQ) Medicare Local.

In what is understood to be a first in Australia, patients will be able to order medications between certain hours in the evening on weekdays and weekends for delivery before 11pm on the same day. Patients must have a valid paper script that will be collected upon delivery, or keep their scripts at the pharmacy.

Toowoomba Medical & Dental Centre’s Chemmart Pharmacy managing partner and pharmacist Adnan Gauhar said after-hours doctors would be able to order the medications as usual, but patients would also be able to email their script details or a photo of the script through their smartphones, or order a repeat.

“The whole point is to have a legible prescription so we can check all of the details that we usually see when a patient comes in, such as whether it is a valid script and the doctor has put the patient's name on it, their details and Medicare number and all of that,” he said.

“People may ring up and say they have a script, but it may not be what the doctor has intended, and we don't want to have any kind of misunderstanding or miscommunication. If a doctor rings in that is fine and that is normal practice, but not a consumer. We want to verify it beforehand.”

The service will be available between 6pm and 8pm Monday to Friday and 5pm and 8pm on weekends, with the prescription delivered before 11pm that evening.

Mr Gauhar said that in addition to the elderly and disabled people, the service would be useful to parents with young children, and would tie in with new services such as Dial a Local Doctor.

“People don’t always get sick between the hours of 9am and 5pm,” he said. “The service is also designed to complement existing after-hours medical services operating within the community, meaning sick people in our city will increasingly be able to access primary healthcare at any hour of the day without going to the hospital.”

Mr Gauhar said he was not using eRx's new Express app and had not heard of the rival Send a Script, which allows patients to take a photo of the script or scan in the barcode and SMS it to the pharmacy. Both of those apps have been designed to allow patients to choose the best time to come in to pick up the prescription in person.

However, he said the trial will use the Pharmacy Guild's MedAdvisor app, which allows patients to keep a list of their prescribed medications on their phones or tablets. This app has a button that allows them to order a repeat from their regular pharmacy.

“The patients can download the app and they can communicate with our computer about what prescription has been dispensed to them and how many repeats are left,” he said. “This is for use when the prescription is kept at the pharmacy. We've started using this app recently and it's quite good.”

The trial is due to last until July, by which time he will be able to assess whether it is commercially viable in the long term. If it is, Mr Gauhar said he would look at expanding it.

There is a $5 fee for the home delivery in addition to the cost of the medication, which must be paid for by credit card or Visa debit card. No cash will be accepted – “we are not pizza delivery!” Mr Gauhar said – and if the service is viable, he will look at instituting a PayPal-like payment system.

The service will not delivery s8 drugs like morphine or oxycodone or drugs of dependence like Xanax or Valium.

Posted in Allied Health

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