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! 17 Comments

  1. I may be a bit thick, but I fail to see the benefit in bringing a third party into the equation. I already order my repeat prescriptions on line from my GP surgery and they are delivered to my local pharmacy. Apart from the possibility of having meds delivered by post (which will be counter-productive to my community pharmacy) I cannot see any benefit.

  2. If you already use Patient Access, like me, there’s a way to get your codes out of the website to give Co-op Health a go (without contacting to your GP surgery) and continue to use PA as usual for other things:

    Open the Patient Access App and sign in. Next, click ‘more’ in the bottom right tab and then select ‘view profile’ under your name at the top. From here, click ‘my account’ and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you’ll see your Practice ODS code, Account ID and Account Linkage key; these are all the details you require in order to set up an account on the Co-op Health App.

    There’s also a way to get it from the website. In ‘Profile’ go to ‘My practice’ next to ‘Linked practices’ and your codes pop up.

  3. 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.

    • This is a good point by Cathy. How does our ambition for ‘stronger communities’ square with this which is creating a threat to bricks and mortar pharmacy which provides a vital unpaid service we don’t.

      We’re acting as an online disrupter. I hope the profit margin will withstand the 2% levy on online retailers when that comes in!

    • Hi Cathy

      We couldn’t agree more! It’s important to remember that first and foremost, our app provides a way for people to order their prescriptions and it’s a way of ordering prescriptions that the NHS has said saves time in GP surgeries, freeing people up to focus on patient centred care which we know is crucial.

      Our app includes all pharmacies in England, so when customers place on order using the app, they can choose to have their medication dispensed at any pharmacy in England. So if someone already has a local pharmacy that they are happy using, they can continue to do so. Hopefully it will make things more efficient for that pharmacy too. We hope that as well as providing more choice for customers, we’re also able to support community pharmacies.

      We completely support the Secretary of State’s comments that digital healthcare will never replace face to face care.


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

    • Hello

      Thanks for your feedback

      This is currently something we’re looking into fixing, but in the mean time if you put in your GP’s own postcode it will find it on the list of five.

      Many thanks
      Co-op Health Team

    • Hi Lewis

      Us again!

      We’ve now done an update to the app so that 10 surgeries are shown on the list rather than 5.

      If you make sure you’re using the most recent version of the app and try again, it should find your GP surgery.

      Many thanks,
      Co-op Health Team

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

    • Hi Martin

      To use the service, all you need to do is contact your GP surgery and ask to register for online services. They’ll probably ask you to call into the surgery with two forms of ID.

      You’ll then be given a couple of codes that you enter into the app. These codes are unique to you and provide a secure way of pairing your phone with your GP records.

      It’s important to note that we currently work with around 65% of GP surgeries in England, with this increasing to 98% over the next few weeks.

      Just to make sure before your surgery is one that we currently work with, I’d recommend downloading the Co-op Health App and register a new account. You’ll be asked to find your GP surgery on a map where it will then tell you whether or not we work with your surgery yet.

      Many thanks,
      Co-op Health Team

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

    • Hi Jessica

      Our team has been working in the industry for many years and things have moved on a huge amount in recent years, largely as a result of the vision for a digital NHS.

      Our approach to this service is completely aligned to this vision as we’ll continue to work closely with the NHS as we move forward. As a digital business, and one that works in a lean and agile well, we are perfectly placed to be able to respond to future changes in the industry and our team are constantly scanning the horizon to keep abreast of developments.

      I hope this helps to give you some reassurance.


  8. 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?

    • Hi Steve

      We give users complete choice of how they would like their prescription dispensing.

      If they select Co-op Health, it comes for free in the post to an address of their choice. Alternatively, they can select any high street pharmacy in England (around 12,000) to have their prescription sent to.

      The service is all about putting the user at the heart of what we do and giving them complete flexibility in obtaining their medicines.

      Many thanks,
      Co-op Health Team

  9. 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.

    • Thanks Jacki, your feedback is greatly appreciated!

      Co-op Health Team

Comments are closed.


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