Well has now completed its rollout of Central Fulfilment, enabled by a new integrated PMR, in just over a year. Now live in 746 pharmacies across England, Scotland and Wales this has laid the foundations for Well to integrate services.
Well have said that a big feature of the new system is that it’s enabled them to deliver centralised assembly of prescriptions. Working in partnership with Positive Solutions, RoboPharma and Infinity Works, Well have installed the latest automation technology at their Healthcare Service Centre (HSC) in Stoke-on-Trent.
The dedicated team there now assemble a significant proportion of regular non-urgent prescriptions centrally. And by doing this at the HSC, every prescription is fulfilled from Well’s distribution centre stock Well have said that it’s like having a warehouse as the dispensary.
Moving this activity centrally is more efficient. It means they can utilise automation technology, and colleagues that support it have a single focus without stop-starting their work in between helping patients and customers in the pharmacy.
For patients, the new system now means they have the option to receive a text alert when their prescription is ready – whether delivered via Central Fulfilment or assembled in the pharmacy. This cuts down on any wasted trips for them.
“As with any change of this scale, it’s been our pharmacy teams up and down the country who are making this a success” says Janice Perkins, Pharmacy Superintendent. “Adapting to a new way of working, while still focusing on the needs of our patients and customers is no easy feat. They’ve responded with a real ‘can do’ approach. It’s great to see that teams have been supporting each other via a dedicated Facebook page to share tips and answer queries.”
Once the repeat prescription is received by the pharmacy – and repeat prescriptions account for around 65-70% of Well’s prescriptions – the assembled order will be delivered in the same timescale as any other medication order. Of course, for urgent prescriptions, the teams will still assemble them in our pharmacies.
“In a world full of technology, sometimes it’s the simple things that work well too” continues Janice. “We’ve just also introduced thousands of yellow totes into our distribution network. These are reserved for patients’ assembled orders from our HSC so that teams in the pharmacy can spot them easily and get their patients’ prescriptions onto the shelves. These are then ready for collection as quickly as possible.”
“This has always been about providing our patients with choice,” says Gillian Stone, Regulatory and NHS Standards Lead for the Digital Pharmacy. “It’s not a case of pharmacies or digital, it’s about both being complementary and providing a seamless experience for our patients and customers. So, if it’s getting regular repeat medication, then having the convenience of this being delivered to your home through the post, whilst having the comfort of knowing you can still speak to the pharmacist is going to appeal. But having a local pharmacy where our patients can get urgent medication or have a physical consultation with one of our pharmacists is equally important to us. As people want different services and have different expectations beyond only a physical pharmacy, we need to be there providing them with their wellbeing needs in ways they want to receive it.”
With trials on the cards for other technology solutions to support our patients, Well is not short of digital ambition. “We’re embracing technology,” comments Claire O’Connell, Director of Digital and IT. “But every piece of development we do has to pass a test before we do it – checking that it will help our teams provide an outstanding pharmacy experience for our patients and customers.”