Lowering Barriers to a Virtual Pharmacy for Pharma Companies

A virtual direct-to-patient pharmacy is a topic on the minds of many in the healthcare industry. Here’s a look at the benefits of a virtual pharmacy and what to prioritize when selecting a virtual pharmacy partner.

Austin Sacks
Austin SacksSenior Director, Product Management
June 7th, 2024
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The recent growth of virtual direct-to-patient pharmacies is making patient care more accessible, integrated and cost-effective

Recently, several high-profile launches of virtual direct-to-patient (DTP) pharmacies have made headlines, representing a big shift in how pharma companies serve patients.

What's driving this trend? Over the past few years, patients have increasingly embraced the digital transformation of healthcare. From routine checkups to addressing sensitive conditions, virtual healthcare platforms expand accessibility and empower patients to manage their health on their own terms.

This shift creates a natural opportunity for pharma companies to provide patients with a more integrated, cost-effective and convenient healthcare experience through a DTP pharmacy.

Lowering Barriers to Access and Affordability

Too often, patients face a variety of frustrating barriers – such as medication cost, navigating insurance hurdles and difficulty accessing a physical pharmacy.

As pharma companies invest in new strategies to lower these common barriers, launching a DTP pharmacy could help improve therapy access and affordability for patients. These virtual pharmacies can significantly improve access to therapies, particularly for newly launched drugs and those approaching loss of exclusivity.

A DTP pharmacy model can also allow pharma companies to manage inventory more effectively, helping to ensure that patients receive the medication originally prescribed by their providers, rather than substitutions due to stock limitations at traditional pharmacies. Additionally, a virtual pharmacy can give a pharma company more control over their cash pricing strategy, which can result in more discounts passed directly to patients.

Lowering Barriers to Data Visibility

According to McKinsey,McKinsey & Company, Improving patient adherence through data-driven insights, Dec. 14, 2018. understanding the drivers of nonadherence requires a multidimensional view that includes patient-level data. To continue helping patients access and afford vital therapies, pharma companies need greater insight into the prescription fulfillment process, particularly for cash-paying patients.Paolella D, Cherry E, Jolly JA, DeClercq J, Choi L, Zuckerman A. Closing the Gap: Identifying Rates and Reasons for Nonadherence in a Specialty Population. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2019 Nov;25(11):1282-1288.

Like any digital channel, one of the top objectives of a virtual pharmacy is to provide insight into actionable data. Digital pharmacies can offer pharma companies a comprehensive view of the patient journey, including insights into prescription abandonment.

A direct-to-patient channel can also help pharma companies build stronger patient relationships and create an easier path to clinical trials. As therapy design and adherence programs rapidly grow more data-driven, the granular level of insight available through direct relationships will grow increasingly valuable.

What Pharma Companies Should Look for in a Virtual Pharmacy

There are a growing number of companies delivering private-label pharmacy solutions that include everything from the customer portal to prescription filling and shipping. Virtual pharmacies can unlock significant advantages for pharma companies. However, finding the ideal partner can feel daunting.

Here are a few of the top attributes to prioritize to help identify the best fit:

  • Ability to deliver seamless branding and an intuitive UX that integrates smoothly with an existing platform.
  • Access to experienced, licensed pharmacists who meticulously intake and process prescriptions and are available to support patients.
  • Strategically located fulfillment facilities where prescriptions are verified, labeled, dispensed, sorted, packaged and shipped (this also helps with geographic differentiation, in terms of redundancy and nationwide shipping efficiency).
  • Prescription dispensing that is highly precise and automated, supported by well-established operating systems, robust fulfillment and procedural expertise.
  • A team of experts who are experienced with handling sensitive therapies and cold chain management.

Pharmacy as a Service Lowers Barriers to Entry for Pharma Companies

Pharmacy as a Service (PaaS) by CoverMyMeds is a private-labeled virtual pharmacy solution designed to lower barriers for pharma companies to offer prescription services to their customers. We do this by offering end-to-end prescription processing, pharmacy fulfillment and nationwide home delivery.

To better serve our pharma partners, we’re continuously expanding our Pharmacy as a Service offering. The roadmap is a long one, but here are a few highlights.

We’re developing a patient-facing portal that can match each client’s brand, allowing for a consistent brand experience. Our platform includes the capability to capture HIPAA authorization, allowing us to share robust and privacy-compliant insights related to patient behavior with pharma customers. We are also working to provide an easy path to patient consent for pharmaceutical trials.

Pharmacy as a Service prioritizes flexible payment options. Currently, it supports cash payments and we’re working on establishing commercial billing capabilities to provide patients with a wider range of payment choices.

We’re also dedicated to increasing the integration of Pharmacy as a Service with other CoverMyMeds access and affordability solutions. With a close connection to our parent company, pharma companies can utilize the scale and scope of McKesson’s inventory, logistics and pharmacy resources.

Ready to Overcome the Barriers to Launching Your Virtual Pharmacy?

The CoverMyMeds team can provide helpful guidance, drawing from over 30 years of prescription automation experience. To delve deeper, please visit our Pharmacy as a Service page and complete the form at the bottom of the page so our team can reach out to answer any questions you may have.

In addition to supporting pharma companies, PaaS creates opportunities for telemedicine organizations, health systems and retail businesses to offer pharmacy services. Explore how your business can benefit from virtual pharmacy services by reading our blog "Expanding Healthcare Access with Virtual Pharmacy Services."

Visit us at the NACDS Total Store Expo at booth 221 on Aug. 17-19 in Boston. We’ll share the top takeaways from key sessions after the event – sign up for our News & Insights email to stay in the loop!

Austin Sacks
Austin SacksSenior Director, Product Management

Austin oversees the product management function of CoverMyMeds’ prescription dispensing business.

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