What Is the Future of
Online Pharmacy Websites?
A few years ago, the idea of buying medicine online was unheard of. This is no longer the case. If people can order food online, why not their medicine? Today, e-pharmacies have changed how people across the globe access both prescription and nonprescription drugs. It is estimated that the first online pharmacy was established in the late 1990s in the United States of America. Ever since, thousands of websites - pharmacy2u, meds4sure.com, chemist2u to name a few - have been set up in countries around the world selling medicine to global consumers.
Advantages of online pharmacy websites
Studies have indicated that the vast majority of online buyers prefer an e-pharmacy to a local drugstore due to the following reasons:
- It allows a patient to access and purchase drugs that are not locally available.
- It is cheaper compared to offline pharmacy.
- Some websites offer free deliveries to their customers.
- Excellent services from the sellers as they do home deliveries, and even send email reminders to their customers for refills.
- Free but very informative health information in forms of blogs and articles, and online consultations.
- Available around the clock, 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- There is better privacy.
- It is convenient as there are no queues as is the case with community pharmacies.
Generally, different people have been attracted to online pharmacies for equally different reasons. However, based on the feedback received from various interviews and outcomes of numerous studies, the growth in this sector is tremendous.
Disadvantages of online pharmacies
While a vast majority of people have confirmed to having searched for and bought medicine online, there is a substantial percentage that hasn’t. Their reasons are equally diverse such as:
- Lack of proper licensing by some of the pharmacies.
- They find no need because most of their prescriptions are found in pharmacies within their neighborhoods.
- Some find it expensive considering that they might have to pay extra for shipment.
- Privacy and confidentiality concerns.
- Lack of knowledge about their existence.
- Government restrictions on specific types of medicine.
- Prescription requirements.
No matter what the reasons behind this group of people, it is obvious that they wouldn’t mind trying out if they had a reason to. The cost of medication in countries such as the USA has compelled most citizens to seek alternatives from across the border, especially Mexico and Canada, or even further in India because they only cost a fraction of what they actually locally.
The industry is changing. Consumers are being more vigilant to avoid illegitimate websites or those involved in fraudulent activities. What then is the future of this sector? Discussed herein are some of the future technological innovations expected in the industry.
1. Electronic Prescription
One of the biggest challenges that affect the operations of online pharmacies is the sale of prescription-only medicines. Some buyers try to evade a trip to the doctor simply because they are not sure if their request will be granted or not. Furthermore, they view their trips to the health practitioner as inconveniencing, time-wasting and expensive. Well, prescription automation will take care of this challenge. Electronic prescribing systems will not only lower errors but boost patient safety all over the world. This will make it possible for anyone in need of prescription-only medication to access the same from anywhere in the world with ease.
2. Online Consultation
You can literally order anything online and get exactly as ordered, with very minimal errors. Why should that not be the case when ordering medicine online? What is the work of live chat, social media, video calls and related technologies? The future will make it possible for doctors or pharmacists to interrogate their patients, understand their conditions better before prescribing medicine. This will reduce errors in dosage and related complications.
3. Enhanced Medicine Identification
One of the biggest fears about online pharmacies has been the sale of counterfeit, expired or wrong drugs to patients. It is not easy to entirely rule out illegitimate online pharmacies. However, with technologies such as barcode readers, errors related to administration of any medicine and rampant cases of counterfeit drugs can be thwarted. The overall workflow of e-pharmacies will tremendously improve as well as the security with barcode scanning of all medicines.
4. Automatic Dispensing
This might appear to be a far-fetched idea, but it is not impossible. At some point in future, automatic dispensing of medicines may become a reality. Some argue that some systems may even automatically be in a position to directly dispense medicine based on the information keyed in by a patient. In as much a doctor will have to verify that the dispensation is accurate, it will save time that might have been wasted in consultation.
5. Good Use of Mobile Technology
Smart devices have taken the world by storm. Owning a smartphone today is a necessity and people are glued to their phones more than any other technological devices ever made in history. Upon ordering your medicine online, you can be reminded through your phone whenever you need to place a fresh order of your medicine. Just the same way you get reminders for your next meetings, online pharmacies will ensure you don’t run out of supply by reminding you when it is time to place a new order. There are already so many applications that you can use to carefully track your health, including sugar levels, calories, blood pressure, name it. The future is likely to be more interesting, making it possible for everyone to be on top of their health.
Technology is not static; it is ever evolving. There is actually no better time to live than now. The future of technology might be unknown, but it is way better than yesteryears. The more people see value and benefits of online pharmacies over traditional drugstores, the more will be need to come up with solutions that can fix all challenges currently being experienced. The best current players in the industry can do is to prepare and help in finding lasting solutions to current challenges. Governments will definitely step in to bring sanity while technology experts will try to make life easier, safer, and healthier for all.