The COVID-19 pandemic has made most parts of British Columbians’ lives more challenging. It has cast uncertainty over our professional and personal lives, stoked anxiety about the health of ourselves and our loved ones, and made all facets of life more complicated — including leaving our homes to buy the products and services we need.
Of those complications, healthcare and accessing medications, are among the most significant.
As the realities of rising infections and deaths in this second wave of the pandemic continue to sink in, the palpable stress over stepping outside our homes has made it clear that we need solutions to make access to medications and health products easier, safer and quicker in B.C.
As an ER doctor, I’ve seen these challenges up close and personal, and it is clear to me that the path forward will need to include the following steps:
Embrace E-commerce In Healthcare
E-commerce was already surging in Canada and the pandemic has accelerated this transformation.
When the pandemic hit in the spring, online sales in Canada saw a 63.8% increase in April, compared to the previous month, according to Stats Canada. In-store sales in that time fell by more than 25% as Canadians stayed close to home as we grappled with the shock of government mobility restrictions and business closures.
Statistics Canada estimates online sales more than doubled from February to May, this year, and more recent reporting from the national agency indicates that 2020 is set to surpass 2019’s total e-commerce sales of $305 billion.
The time is now for B.C. to catch up in the online pharmacy space, as the need for easier access to medications and health products for British Columbians becomes more pressing than ever.
Protect The Most Vulnerable
The pandemic has made it harder for our most vulnerable to keep up with the necessities of daily life. Our elderly loved ones, those (generally) most in need of the majority of medications, are also the ones most in danger from COVID-19. Shopping trips to the pharmacy to fill and refill prescriptions and consult with a pharmacist have become stressful and potentially dangerous.
Emerging e-commerce pharmacies like EasyDrugs can make it easier, quicker and safer for British Columbians to fill, refill, transfer and manage their prescriptions and the medications for loved ones or people under their care.
EasyDrugs is a new online pharmacy in B.C. powered through a website and a smartphone app that provides free next day delivery for prescriptions around B.C. This will help to make it more convenient and safer for medication users to access their medications whether they’re in Prince George, Vernon, Powell River or in Vancouver.
Improve Access To Care And Safety
Using medication correctly and having access to pharmacists can vastly improve outcomes for patients. Understanding how important this is, EasyDrugs’ system immediately connects users to licensed local pharmacists and uses text reminders to improve medication use. Moreover, the
system consolidates medical profiles to show a full prescription record to reduce adverse reactions in cases where a person is taking multiple drugs.
Well-run online pharmacies can reduce written or verbal communication errors regarding prescriptions and provide family members and caregivers the ability to co-manage medications to keep everyone on the same page.
Medication safety is a key issue in Canadian healthcare, and e-commerce drug stores can systematically reduce errors and improve safety by addressing the root causes of prescription errors at multiple levels, including human error.
We already know that technology as simple as text message alerts for medication use can help improve medication use — and streamlining efficient access and prescription fulfillment, while improving connectivity with pharmacists, is a big step in that direction in B.C.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped much of our day-to-day lives, but it also presents an important opportunity to embrace technology for better health outcomes for all of us.
Dr. Afshin Khazei is a medical doctor, and a partner and medical advisor with Vancouver’s EasyDrugs.com.