Online pharmacies have certainly come a long way in the last few years. The first online pharmacies were little more than a basic web store where you could purchase a range of over-the-counter medicines. Modern day websites now offer a whole host of services and advice. The latest trend is in the development of smartphone apps that provide helpful information to ensure you get the medicine you need.
Today around 19% of health care providers offer their patients an online prescription refill service. This means that after a patient has their initial consultation with a doctor they are able to order repeat prescriptions online. This saves time for both the medical professionals and the patients. How people shop for drugs is changing to be more online as the apps are developed to a higher standard and provide many advantages over simply visiting the local pharmacy.
The latest trend is in developing apps that mimic the in-store experience. There are essentially two aspects needed to achieve this. The first is that store apps provide an interactive way to “walk” around a 3D virtual store. This can help to locate medicine much quicker, especially when the stores use a uniform layout. Many people struggle to remember the name of their medicine but can recognize it on sight. The second way is to offer information about medicines for specific conditions and to offer alternative treatments. An experienced pharmacist can often recommend over-the-counter medicines for a range of conditions. Modern apps are also starting to achieve this.
Apps available for online pharmacies
Some apps allow customers to shop around to save money on their medicine; this is often one of the main reasons why apps are downloaded. Most retail apps are designed to provide the best offers to their users. With a barcode or QR scanner, a customer can scan their empty medicine box and immediately see prices for the same or similar products from a range of stores. This service helps customers to save money and builds a more competitive pharmacy market.
One of the biggest advantages of using an online pharmacy is that the drugs are cheaper to buy. Bricks and mortar retail outlets have many overheads, including rent, electricity, heating and more staff members are required. An online pharmacy needs only a warehouse and website to operate and often fewer people can run a business effectively. Medicines are also delivered when they are needed, which means the patients do not need to take time out of work to pick up their drugs. Many great apps link up information on drugs and conditions with pharmacies where products can be ordered online.
Android has a wide selection of apps available in the Google Play store. Most of the apps are free; they make their money through advertising and earning commissions with the online pharmacies that they are partnered with. Some apps provide information only while others are linked with online stores.
A popular information based app is the Pocket Pharmacy. It was created in 2013 with the sole aim to help its users to get to know the many different medicines available and find out what the default dosage rates are for each.
Find Pharmacies is an app that is designed to help you quickly find a street pharmacy. It provides maps and directions to the nearest pharmacy to your current location, or you can search by town or street address. It has a global database of pharmacies and is an invaluable tool if you are traveling overseas. Users are also able to upload pharmacy information to the OpenStreetMap project to ensure that the information is always up-to-date. The app uses GPS to locate your position and then it seeks out the nearest pharmacies, provides telephone numbers, and addresses so that you can call. Apps such as this are vital in an emergency.
One of the best information based apps is the US Pharmacist app, which was built by Jobson Healthcare Information in December 2013. It provides access to educational information for the pharmacy industry.
Sometimes the paid apps are better than the free ones. They are kept up to date and provide a higher quality of customer support. One such app is the Pharmacy, Drug, Medications app by AbreuRetto that was released in December 2013. It runs a global database of pharmacies, sourcing information from Yelp, Foursquare, Nokia and Google. It provides addresses and telephone numbers and like the Find Pharmacies it uses GPS to alert you to the nearest store. Additional features include user ratings and photos of the stores.
Apps for Apple smartphones and tablets are available from Apple’s iTune store. There are some excellent information based apps for Apple phones, such as the iPharmacy Drug Guide & Pill Finder by Sigmaphone, which maintains a database of thousands of drugs. It also has search tool to help find the lowest prices for your Rx (prescription). This app is available in German as well as English.
Drug Search is an excellent app for athletes and sports players. It provides information on banned substances and will quickly inform a patient if their prescribed drugs contain any substances that may have been banned by the athletic regulatory bodies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency (WODA).
For pure drug search, the Low Price Drug Search app is a great option. It is a simple to use app with a clean interface that allows users to search for a drug by inputting its name, dosage, manufacturer (optional) and will then provide the cheapest known retail price with a link to the seller’s website to allow speedy purchase.