Uber for Rxs Doesn't Replace Pharmacists

Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
Published Online: Thursday, January 14, 2016
Patients in New York City can now have their prescription drugs delivered to them on demand.
Manhattan-based drug delivery startup ZipDrug recently partnered with CityMD to install a kiosk in the care center’s Murray Hill facility so that patients can order their prescriptions to be delivered by the Uber-esque service.
Similar to the Uber and Lyft app for car rides, patients can track the progress of their prescriptions on a map in the ZipDrug mobile app.
ZipDrug purports that it can deliver a patient’s prescriptions in an average of 16 minutes. Patients can set up their insurance information and preferred payment form when they first use the service in order to further streamline drug delivery.
To use the service, a prescriber must first electronically submit the script to the patient’s desired pharmacy in order for ZipDrug to process the request. Paper prescriptions are not recognized.
The service supports every licensed pharmacy located in most of New York City.
The ZipDrug app can send push notifications to patients when their medications are up for a refill. The patient can also add multiple users to their account, so if one household member is keeping up with the patient’s refills, it is likely that his or her included family or friends would do the same.
Most major pharmacy benefit managers have home prescription services, but ZipDrug’s competitive advantage is the accountability it provides.
The company’s messengers are required to complete training on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as well as undergo drug screenings and thorough background checks. A signature is required at the time of delivery, and the exact coordinates at the time of the prescription drug drop-off are also documented at the point of transfer.
ZipDrug co-founder and CEO Stu Libby told Pharmacy Times that the app’s convenience has potential to improve medication adherence and subsequently lower health care costs.
“ZipDrug eliminates any convenience barriers as it relates to visiting a pharmacy, so patients can get their medications exactly when they want them,” he said.
ZipDrug does not attempt to brand itself as a replacement for the pharmacist with respect to patient counseling. Importantly, the company’s messengers do not discuss medications with patients.
“We leave that to the folks who are certified to do so,” the company says on its website.
In fact, ZipDrug recognizes that pharmacists play an important role, especially in making sure patients don’t forget or otherwise abandon their medications.
“Pharmacies can have medications delivered to patients who did not pick up their prescriptions with our pharmacy portal,” Libby noted.
Patients can sign up for the ZipDrug service at any time using just their phone, and starting in February, more kiosks will become available throughout other CityMD locations.

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