The Co-op Group announced a new digital pharmacy offer at its AGM in Manchester. The service aims to disrupt the health sector and drive the growth of the online prescriptions market.
Named Co-op Health, the group’s new health venture features a digital app, the first in a series of digital developments planned for the future.
The Co-op will dispense medications ordered through the app, from its new pharmacy distribution centre in Lea Green, North West England.
Digital pharmacy accounts for less than 1% of England’s £9bn prescription market, but is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. Around one billion prescriptions are dispensed every year in England, 80% of which are repeat orders.
The new app links patients directly to their GP surgeries, through its integration with the NHS, enabling patients to order medication in real time.
Users can choose to have their medication dispensed by the Co-op Health’s Pharmacy and delivered directly to their home, work or any other address in the UK. Alternatively, they can opt to have their medication dispensed by and collected from any other pharmacy in England.
The Co-op will also be piloting a UK first click and collect locker in the coming weeks. This option will enable people to collect repeat prescriptions safely and conveniently from secure lockers within the Co-op’s food stores, by using a unique code or pin.
This is not the first health venture for the Group, which sold its bricks and mortar pharmacy business to Bestway Group in 2014 for £620m. Last year the Group acquired healthcare technology start-up, Dimec, an NHS approved digital prescriptions app, which developed the technology behind its new app.
Tim Davies managing director of Co-op Health said: “The pharmacy sector is at the start of a digital revolution, as consumers increasingly look for more flexibility and convenience in accessing their medication.
“Our offer will give customers a range of ways to get hold of their medication, with the knowledge that the service is being provided by a brand they know and can trust, in a way that best suits them.
“This app is just the start for our Health business. We know 40% of the financial burden on the NHS is due to preventable diseases, and as we grow our Health business we want to put the emphasis on proactive health care and empower people to take control of their own wellbeing.”
The Co-op also recently launched a pilot of six health stations across its food stores in Manchester. The machines are aimed at helping people recognise the key risk factors impacting health allow people to record their weight, height, BMI. They measure their blood pressure and provide digital advice on how to improve health for free.
Steve Murrells, CEO of the Co-op added: “The launch of Co-op Health takes us back into a sector we know well and one where our difference can be felt.
“By harnessing the power of our digital and physical assets, we will deliver a range of distinctive Co-op Health solutions that will benefit our members and their communities alike.”