Case study: Making the retail pharmacy experience more rewarding


Visiting a pharmacy in the US is exhausting, inconvenient and time-consuming. If you go to a pharmacy, you have to wait in three separate lines: the first to drop off the prescription, the second to pay and wait to get it manually checked, and the third to speak to the pharmacist.

If you can’t stand in the queue and can afford to wait for medicines to arrive in your mail, there are mail delivery pharmacies. However, deliveries by these third party service providers take more than 3 days and sometimes as long as 2 weeks!

This sounds a bit off, doesn’t it? In the world of on-demand delivery where one can get a free pizza delivery within 30-minutes, how can it be that the pharmacy experience still requires you to drive to a pharmacy, stand in multiple lines, and wait while your prescription is prepared?

Our partners, NowRx, saw this gap in the pharmacy experience and came up with the idea of redefining the retail pharmacy industry. NowRx is a startup trying to bring same-day/on-demand delivery as the standard model for interacting with the pharmacy. NowRx is helping people live a healthier life by reinventing the entire experience and making it more customer-centric.

A customer-centric pharmacy delivery solution enabled by technology

NowRx was founded with the goal of replacing the traditional distribution model with an on-demand delivery model while providing a superior customer experience. To achieve this, NowRx uses a host of channels including mobile apps, text, email, phone, fax, voice-activated virtual personal assistants, end-to-end robotic dispensing, and an advanced logistics platform.

We worked on designing and developing the NowRx app that connects customers and physicians. We also worked on developing the Wheels app which helps the NowRx drivers to perform door-to-door delivery of the medicines.

Challenges we faced

NowRx is responding to the rapidly increasing consumer demand by using mobile apps, chat bots, and voice-activated assistants. To make all of it convenient, efficient, and hassle-free was not as easy as we imagined it to be.

On the technical side, we faced various challenges. For instance, the platform enables doctors to send electronic/fax prescriptions for their patients to NowRx. To initiate the same-day delivery, the platform needs access to doctors data, pharmacy data, medication data (for pricing), insurance data (of customers). There are other use cases as well where our platform automatically checks for and applies any manufacturer coupons that might be available, helping end users save money.

Therefore, it’s important to have everything in place to make sure that our platform delivers what it promises. This was a challenge as it involved doing a lot of 3rd party API integrations to process prescriptions, insurance claims and discount coupons in near real-time.

On the design side, the major challenge was to find the sweet spot between usability, aesthetics, and ergonomics. Since our end users could be anyone from a busy working mother to an elderly (wo)man, it was important to design an experience that was easy, quick and intuitive. So, our primary goal was to design the experience in such a way that it makes the platform simple to use and reduces the number of steps required to complete a task.

How prescriptions are delivered within hours, absolutely free

When we hear the word ‘free’, there is a deep gutted feeling that says— “Nothing in this world is free and even if it is, there is a catch that we yet can’t see. It’s just a marketing gimmick. ”

However, our partners have come up with a solution that uses robots and other technologies to be hyper efficient; thereby cutting costs by a huge margin. That’s how NowRx can afford free delivery while still being a profitable business!

We helped NowRx build QuickFill — a proprietary pharmacy management software that allows automated electronic refill authorization, end-to-end automated medication dispensing, and image analytics for high-speed pharmacist verification.

The frontend of the application is built on Angular 8, Typescript and JavaScript.

QuickFill is Surescript certified to send and receive eRx transactions. Once it receives a prescription request, it processes the medication, checks the insurance of the customer, runs it through DEA authorization (in case of EPCS medication), and contacts the patient to ask them how they would like to pay. For this we did Stripe integration for Credit Card payment. We also did Telecommunication D.0 integration in our application with Relayhealth for insurance transaction processing.

A driver-side app for NowRx

The QuickFill software is also designed to be a pharmacy routing and logistics software. We worked on the delivery routing optimization which allows drivers to take the most efficient route and make same day deliveries.

NowRx Wheelz is a driver side app which is built in Ionic. It tracks drivers’ routes and stops with time and GPS Stamps. It also helps streamline re-deliveries, record the proof of delivery, and add photographic description of delivery addresses.

Designing for an intuitive customer experience

Our years of experience in building healthcare technology products has taught us that a good design solves the problems of the users, and not just looks pretty.

This thought process helped us immensely as we often found ourselves restricted by business challenges and backend limitations. So, at every stage in the design process, we went back to our design principles of practicing empathy and getting married to user’s problems, not our solutions.

A better pharmacy experience that gives better health outcomes

NowRx is disrupting the pharmaceutical industry by providing a better experience for both consumers and pharmacies.

On one hand, NowRx helps improve worker productivity by eliminating the time employees spend filling prescriptions. Paired with this, the highly automated micro-fulfillment centers which have end-to-end robotic dispensing (“One-Click Fill”) to deliver prescriptions further improve the delivery process.

As a result this causes a ripple effect at many levels. With the increased likelihood of timely prescription fills and delivery, it encourages medication adherence in people and a significant reduction in the number of missed medications. This ultimately reduces the costs to health plan insurers, and provides better consumer health.

Together with NowRx, we hope to continue building and improving this idea so that more people take charge of their health and build better lives.

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