Patient Centric App Review Series
Pharmacy Apps Reviewed:
Compare and contrast different features available to community pharmacy applications on smart phones.
The rise of mobile phone usage has inspired many companies to create mobile apps to help their customers with increased access to their services and products. In the case of community pharmacies, the goal has been to allow patients an easier way to refill their prescriptions at the nearest convenient pharmacy.
Primary App Features:
Overall features of the apps from community pharmacies are those that help patients refill medications. Interestingly, this has changed greatly in the past year. Previously, patients had to manually enter the Rx Number on the vial (specific for each pharmacy).
However, barcode scanning has now been integrated into most pharmacies to help patients simply scan the vial and communicate to the pharmacy the medication refill desired.
Another interesting feature along with refilling medications is the ability to transfer medications between pharmacies. For those that take medications, the transfer process can often be an annoyance if all the information is not available for the pharmacist to conduct the transfer.
Utilization of the app helps address what information is needed so that a transfer can more easily be conducted (however, that does not necessarily mean your wait time will be reduced). This can be done either by entering required information via the app, or by taking a picture and scanning the vial (only Walgreens).
Other features of the apps is the ability to locate the closest pharmacy to the user. Along with this, is the ability to locate the clinics offered by Walgreens (Take Care Clinic) and CVS (MinuteClinic).
Walmart has integrated its popular $4 dollar generic list into its app, which can be helpful for providers looking for a cheap option for patients that may have financial limitations.
Lastly, Walgreens has integrated a pill reminder system into its app. However, this is pretty much the app I reviewed earlier (RxmindMe) which was bought by Walgreens.
One of the changes was the ability to scan the medication bottle to add it to the list of medications on the app, which is nicer than adding the drug manually.
- Free – All apps
- Ability to locate pharmacy to get medications – helpful if traveling
- Multiple ways to refill medications and transfer between pharmacies
- Integration of barcode scanning technology helps those that may have poor eyesight
- Only Walgreens has a pill reminder as part of its app
- Providing $4 dollar lists via the app would be beneficial – similar to the WalMart App
- Reminders to refill medications could be beneficial
- No clinical features
- Cannot communicate to the pharmacist
- OTC or Herbal information may be beneficial
- Drug monograph integration could help as well
Patients that may Benefit from App
- Those that would like to use their smartphone to help organize and manage their medications
- Utilization of community pharmacy apps may be beneficial in helping patients refill their medications
- Pros – Integration of barcode scanning can help greatly in refilling medications
- Cons – Outside of refilling prescriptions, these apps offer very little in terms of helping patients with medications or ways of increasing adherence.
Calling the pharmacy for a refill can be a hassle at times, especially if you find yourself on the phone waiting to speak to someone. The utilization of a pharmacy app may help ease the burden of refilling medications by communicating through the systems app. Most community pharmacies are making the movement to scanning the bottle to help order the refills. Additionally, the ability to transfer prescriptions is also being picked up. Currently, however, only Walgreen’s app has other features that may be beneficial, such as a pill reminder.
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your healthcare provider.