By Rachael Clarke, Pharmacy Superintendent, Co-op Health

This weekend, at our AGM, will be the big moment we officially launch Co-op Health – an exciting, new Co-op business that will be able to support our millions of customers and members to better look after their health.

We’re starting with Pharmacy, and while Co-op has worked in pharmacy before, this time it’s different. With none of the ties and costs of bricks and mortar, our new business is digital and innovative and able to adapt quickly to what patients need.

I’ve been a pharmacist for 14 years, and the market is changing. 80% of the prescriptions dispensed in England are repeat orders, and less than 1% of them are through a digital pharmacy. This is set to grow significantly in the future, so there’s a huge opportunity in the market. And one that the Co-op can really make a difference in.

Our new Co-op Health app, which we’ve developed following our acquisition of Dimec last year, is unique in the market. It uses a secure NHS connection into the customer’s GP system, meaning that customers can view and order their repeat medication in real time. Through the app, customers can choose to have their medication dispensed by our digital pharmacy (which is in our Lea Green food depot). They can have it posted directly to them, or can select any one of the other pharmacies in England to dispense their medication instead and collect from their chosen pharmacy. Our app is unique as we’re the only ones bringing together this NHS technology with the option of being able to select our digital pharmacy for direct delivery, We’ll also trial the UK’s first secure click and collect lockers for prescriptions in some of our Food stores.

But our app is just the start. We know 40% of the financial burden on the NHS is due to preventable diseases so, as we grow our Health business, we want to make healthcare more accessible, more convenient and to help people to take control of their own wellbeing both now, and in the future.

Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. What risk does this give to local / high street pharmacies that directly support the community and NHS by being the 1st option for minor aliments and medicine advice? Yes, getting medicine delivered to the door is convenient but as a regular repeat prescription user I think the physical access is vital to vulnerable people and gives support in emergencies when GP’s get scripts wrong.

  2. I put in my postcode and it brought up 5 GPs, but none were mine and there was no option to search wider.

  3. So… what are the rules and how do we sign up?

  4. I agree with Jacki, this is a huge step in the right direction. Health and wellbeing has become such a topic of conversation, and people are starting to take responsibility for their own wellness. I am finding that there has been more of a shift towards the prevention of ill health, and if a trusted brand like the Co-op is leading the way, this can only be a good thing.

  5. I have every faith in the Co-op to deliver brilliant service however, the NHS is renowned for it’s outdated and poorly managed data and IT infrastructure and systems. Perhaps things have moved along, but these outdated systems often meant unreliable profit and payments from the NHS to pharmacies. I recognise we don’t have the brick and mortar as a cost any longer, but how can we work with the NHS to improve their own systems to manage/offset the unpredictable nature of profit in prescriptions?

  6. Sadly we still won’t have the high street presence we once had with pharmacy. The older generation certainly miss this. This new service will only appeal to younger people, which I guess fits our strategy but its a shame.

    How have we got other pharmacy businesses on board to distribute these prescriptions? Or are we effectively passing them business to fulfil using their own stock?

  7. Sounds amazing, I was sad to see our ties to Pharmacy go, and there is a need for this. Just like our CWC Cremation without ceremony it is exciting to see Co-op leading the way forward.


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