In an effort to further connect patients to pharmacists, Benzer Pharmacy, an independent chain with 85 owned stores and 38 franchised stores, has recently partnered with Uber Health to provide patients with safe, affordable, and efficient transportation options. This new partnership will provide patients with transportation to pick-up prescriptions and/or meet their local pharmacist for in-person consultations at participating locations throughout the Benzer Pharmacy system.
“We’ve partnered with Uber Health so that those who may not be able to leave their home due to transportation limitations, such as the elderly or those with disabilities, have an option,” said Alpesh Patel, president and founder of Benzer Pharmacy. “Delivery was always a priority, but this partnership brings [patient-provider interaction] one step further so that patients can pick up their prescriptions and talk to their pharmacist whenever they like.”
According to the company’s press release, approximately 3.6 million Americans miss their health care appointments due to a lack of reliable transportation. For Meghann Chilcott, chief technology and marketing officer for Benzer Pharmacy, this number represented a definite need.
“It’s common practice for pharmacies to deliver or have telepharmacy, but what we’re not seeing is the opposite,” she said. “There are those patients that don’t have transportation but still want to see their pharmacist. What inspired this service was flipping that perspective. Why always bring medication to the patient and why not the patient to the pharmacist?”
Chilcott explained that patients do not need the Uber app, or even a smartphone, to take advantage of this new partnership. Once patients are in the system, the company can book their ride from any address at a specific time and date. A phone call or text message is then sent just prior to pick-up to keep both parties on the same page.
“Our goal is to keep patients focused on solving what they need to do to get better, rather than being distracted by any problems they might have in getting here,” said Patel. “With Uber Health in our corner, we’re writing our own prescription for better service.”
This is not the first time that the pharmacy chain has made steps to bridge the gaps that frequently come between pharmacists and patients. In years prior, Benzer Pharmacy created a proprietary platform for free home delivery.
“Delivery was a big move years ago and one that we made so that patients who were coming out of the hospital could have their prescription with them. Yet, our new partnership aids those who leave the hospital and go back to their lives who may need assistance from their pharmacist on medication or other counseling,” explained Patel.
In an additional effort to improve patient-provider communication, Benzer will be releasing a video-conferencing platform that patients can access for a consultation anytime and anywhere later this year. Furthermore, the company is rolling out a new educational system so that when patients are finished with their consultation, they will receive videos and other educational materials by text or email to answer any questions they may have—from diet to the time of day they must take their medication.
“Technology plays a big role in a patient’s health, and that’s why Benzer Pharmacy is focusing on it,” said Patel. “Medication can help a lot, but changing a patient’s unhealthy habits and following certain restrictions can help the most with conditions.”
For Patel, independent pharmacists are at the forefront of his decision making.
“[They] are keeping the industry alive, and they spend more time with the patient than a physician does,” he said. “I would urge independent pharmacists to look into the hundreds of affordable vendors that can partner with their pharmacies in order to provide accessible transportation to their patients.”