Telehealth company Now Healthcare plans to open a robot-powered ‘digital pharmacy’ in Liverpool after receiving NHS approval.
The £1.5m “tele-pharmacy super hub” will serve users of the Now Patient app with chronic health conditions, allowing patients to order repeat NHS prescriptions and have them delivered to their door.
Dubbed Now Pharmacy, it will be the first dispensary in the world to be owned by a telehealth company and will use state-of-the-art robotics technology to fulfil around 500,00 prescriptions every month.
It is hoped the initiative will improve the situation for those living in Liverpool’s most deprived areas, where cuts to community pharmacies have made it more difficult for chronically ill patients to access the medications they need.
Lee Dentith, founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group, said: “The NHS is evolving, and digital innovation is crucial to offering patients quality care and choice. Fifteen million people in the UK are suffering with chronic conditions, and Now Patient enables them to be empowered to manage their own healthcare needs and to reduce the strain on our country’s overstretched health services.”
Chronic care patients on the NHS will be able to order repeat prescriptions from the pharmacy via the Now Patient app, after nominating Now Patient as their NHS pharmacy.
The robotics technology, dubbed Rowa and manufactured by US-based firm BD, are able to recognise the medications by their size and significantly speed up the dispensing process.
Now Healthcare said it had agreed a contract with the NHS to ensure that same quality of service is delivered to users throughout the whole of England
Launched last year, the company was boosted by a £4 million investment from health insurance provider Medicash in June 2017.
Sue Weir, chief executive of Medicash, said: “Since our investment in Now Healthcare Group last year, we’ve been proud to work alongside them in driving this new technology to market.
“This new tele-pharmacy is another first for the City of Liverpool, which not only brings new jobs with it, but will also make it easier for tens of thousands of people to get access to the repeat prescriptions they need without having to regularly take time off work to visit their doctor and collect their prescription.”
Now Healthcare was one of the first two digital GP services to pass inspection by the Quality Care Commission (CQC), alongside Babylon Health.
The Now Patient app allows patients to get free delivery of their repeat prescriptions nationwide.
It also offers a live chat facility with pharmacists and a triage service to connect worried patients to GPs, pharmacists and nurses.
In March, the company announced that its app had been downloaded 10,000 times in the space of three months.