Amidst our snazzy robots and high-tech dispensary, here’s how our community values come shining through.
When we talk about new health technology, it sounds like something of the future. After all, PillTime is an online pharmacy that uses artificial intelligence and image recognition, for goodness sake. When did we suddenly travel light-years ahead?
Truly, we find ourselves in innovative times. We’re at the cusp of a new healthcare era. Technology is about to change the face of UK pharmacy. Our savvy machines have revolutionised dispensing. They make pharmacy processes more efficient and safer. But, with such exciting technology, it’s easy to forget that PillTime is very much about the people. We want to tell you a bit more about our story. Building an online pharmacy was a very different venture for us. So we’d like to explain why PillTime and why now.
The start of our journey
Paul Mayberry is the owner of a South Wales pharmacy group. After qualifying as a pharmacist nearly thirty years ago, he began working in an independent pharmacy. He instantly loved the patient interaction. Paul worked hard to provide all his patients with a unique and valuable service. So, when the opportunity arose to buy the pharmacy, he jumped at it. From there, one pharmacy grew into seven. Still today, these pharmacies provide medication for patients in South Wales communities.
A gap in the service
Though Paul loved the community sector, he wanted to do more to help. Every day, he spoke to patients who struggled to take their medication properly. People would request their prescription too early or too late and get out of sync. Some of Paul’s patients admitted that they skipped the odd dose. Patients got confused by doses or simply couldn’t open the packets.
When he looked into it, he discovered that these weren’t isolated cases. Research shows that over 50% of people take their medication incorrectly. That’s just an average, but it gets much higher still. In fact, this number is reported to be as high as 67% amongst people with Type 2 Diabetes. The figures are also higher for older people and those taking lots of different tablets. This was particularly concerning to Paul, as these accounted for the majority of patients that he spoke to in his pharmacies every day.
From experience, he found that traditional compliance aids like dosette boxes and blister packs didn’t really help. Patients still struggled to sort their doses and often made mistakes. This is easily done when you require several medications, all with different dosing instructions. Patients also struggled to open tough packs. The aids were so rigid that they didn’t really make medication convenient or accessible.
From retail to robots
Further investigation proved that things needed to change and could change. Paul looked into new innovation in the pharmacy sector. Robot dispensing came up as a winner every time. It was intelligent, more efficient and safer than human sorting. This new technology provided the basis for an exciting new venture: PillTime.
From there, the possibilities were plentiful. If these robots could improve the dispensing process, why not optimise the rest of the process, too? Paul invested in new technology that made pharmacy simpler and safer. He knew that these machines could have the biggest impact to patients on a wider scale. So, he decided to set up PillTime in England, making use of NHS England’s electronic prescribing. With this technology at his fingertips, it made sense for PillTime to be an online pharmacy. This way, everyone in England could use it.
In the early days, PillTime consisted of just one robot, one checker and a small team of Paul’s most trusted staff. PillTime then grew into the fully-scaled online pharmacy operation that it is today. Our dispensary boasts image recognition scanners, optical checking screens and several robots.
A people-focused online pharmacy
Although we have these incredible tools, the people are still at the heart of PillTime. We now have teams of highly-trained professionals at each stage of the process. The dispensary is home to pharmacists, developers, customer service staff and people like me, who get to blog about our great service. Our community links are still prevalent within the business. Paul is still passionate about his work within his branches, and has a big presence in this area.
Our community of patients is growing, and we’re pleased that PillTime pouches can help thousands of people throughout England. If you’d like to learn more about our impressive service, visit our How It Works page. Or, read about our latest collaborative project with NHS staff at Salford Royal Hospital. To get the latest updates from the team inside the dispensary, check out our Instagram account.