How the hyperlocal delivery model could empower pharmacists and support the struggling NHS

The NHS is currently facing significant challenges, including staff shortages, union strikes, supply chain issues, and increasing patient volume. This is coupled with a slow adoption of digital service offerings, which in the current climate could alleviate backlog and streamline services.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies have brought their services online, causing an acceleration in digital transformation – described by experts as a ‘technology tipping point’. UK consumers embraced this new level of convenience, and delivery-based businesses capitalised on this development, connecting customers with various retailers at the touch of an app.

In the pharmaceutical industry, there are many innovative technologies at our fingertips; in most cases, it seems counterintuitive for the sick to have to physically attend a pharmacy to collect prescriptions and purchase P-Meds and over-the-counter medications. Beyond this, many demographics struggle to visit the brick-and-mortar pharmacy, such as people with disabilities or chronic pain. Other demographics would also benefit from a fast delivery service, such as busy business professionals and parents of young children.

With so many potential benefits, it begs the question: why has pharma been slow to adopt the hyperlocal delivery model, and how can it play a crucial role in supporting the NHS and its various stakeholders in 2023?

Adding value

Pharmacists are currently operating under immense pressure. As hospitals and ambulance services direct more patients to their local pharmacies, the patient demand continues to amplify without adequate staffing or resources to support such an increase. One pharmacist recently spoke out in the media, explaining that due to increased patient demand, there is a constant time deficit and a feeling that pharmacists are “operating in a pressure cooker”.

This is a helplessly outmoded industry that is crying out for digital transformation. Utilising technology could provide a solution with multiple benefits at hand. For instance, a digital healthcare app could maximise P-meds and prescription dispensing automation, allowing the pharmacy team to work through orders faster and providing a more time-efficient service to patients.

The hyperlocal delivery model is well suited to patient discretion. Research by Well Pharmacy found that over a third of adults have left empty-handed as they felt too ashamed to collect treatment from a brick-and-mortar pharmacy. Ordering medication through a universal healthcare app mitigates any feelings of shame or embarrassment.

Supporting struggling high street pharmacies

Operating against a backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, increased rental rates and decreased footfall, brick-and-mortar pharmacies are suffering a big hit to their profits. In 2020, a report predicted that 72% of English pharmacies will be in deficit by 2024, and this figure is likely to have increased since the pandemic. Pharmacies are a vital resource to the local community, but with the rise of online and e-pharmacies, experts claim that many pharmacies are now dispensing at a loss and face a severe cashflow crisis.

To date, digital pharmacies have been viewed as a competitor to brick-and-mortar retailers, acting as a catalyst for their expected collapse. However, introducing a hyperlocal delivery platform would empower high-street pharmacies to fight back and compete with e-pharmacies. By partnering with local pharmacies, particularly in cities where footfall has taken the biggest hit due to increased hybrid working policies, there is a huge opportunity to create additional, complementary revenue that wouldn’t be accessible through traditional in-store purchases. This is an attractive, limitless chance to level out revenue and potentially bring in more financial benefits than in-store purchases.

Additionally, through the hyperlocal delivery model, pharmacies can expand their geographical radius. Assuming a pharmacist covers an average 100-metre radius, localised delivery would immediately cover a wider area and sell to people in an up to two-kilometre geofence. Thus, high street pharmacies can gain access to thousands of customers they could never touch through retail-only services.

The power of the pharmacist

As pressure on the NHS intensifies and more people are directed to seek medical treatment from their local pharmacy, it’s essential to bring to light the knowledge and resources that pharmacists can offer their patients. Contrary to popular belief, many pharmacists can prescribe medications and provide referrals to additional services, which can alleviate a lot of pressure on NHS services such as hospitals and GP surgeries. This is an invaluable resource for individuals who are experiencing barriers to care or even those who aren’t registered with a local GP and need a quick, efficient service.

“As digitalisation in healthcare accelerates there is a great opportunity to streamline services and create efficiencies for physicians and patients,” says London-based doctor, Stephanie Damalis. “Reducing foot traffic to doctor’s offices and pharmacies will relieve pressure on the busy health professionals working to support customers and the NHS. There will be scope for pharmacists to prescribe and treat more patients, which will serve as an incredible leap in convenience and quality of care. By automating and digitising the diagnostic service, we can streamline everything into orders and maximise the pharmacist’s time. As a doctor and working mother, I fully recognise the value of a speedy pharmacy delivery service in the UK.”

Endless Possibilities

Patients met with solutions wouldn’t have to search elsewhere to receive treatment and feel part of a trusted healthcare system. So often, digital tools are criticised for creating barriers between the community; however, this service would empower and support the struggling healthcare industry to improve patient care in the UK.

To drive forward a digital healthcare revolution, pharma-based platforms must continuously look to the future and find new ways to support pharmacists and NHS workers. Through a universal healthcare app, pharmacy professionals can seize the opportunity to master an advisory role by providing universal advice to patients at a digital scale.

About the author

Healistic is an all-in-one universal healthcare platform providing a seamless user experience. Before launching Healistic, CEO Daniel Bulkin founded multiple successful businesses, including a COVID diagnostics centre chain and an angel investment syndicate investing in European early-stage companies.

Prior to this, he had an impressive rise in private equity investment. Starting in the highly competitive graduate program at Terra Firma, he then moved onto join H.I.G Capital Europe as the team’s youngest investment associate. At age 27, he was promoted to investment manager and a few months later quit his job to build his own businesses.

Don’t miss your complimentary subscription to Deep Dive and our newsletter

Sign up



Your name

Your e-mail

Name receiver

E-mail address receiver

Your message