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Findings from innovative pharmacy tech startup reveal more than half of patients don't use local pharmacies except for minor illnesses

LONDON, March 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Fresh findings from Charac, an NHS-integrated one-stop platform for community pharmacies, has provided new insight into public perception and patient usage of pharmacies. Awareness of the full scale of services is as low as 13% of those surveyed, and 53% are not using pharmacies for more than minor ailments.

Pressure on the NHS is at its highest. Health Secretary Steve Barclay has acknowledged the importance of a 'pharmacy first' policy in England, but this is yet to be realised, and Charac's research has found that patient knowledge of pharmacy services remains worryingly low.

Knowledge of services

More than 50% of patients were not aware of most services pharmacies provide. Most respondents were only aware of 4 out of 15 potential services, being minor illnesses, repeat prescriptions, emergency contraception, and flu vaccination. Knowledge of services was as low as 13% for chlamydia screening and treatment.

Usage of services

The only pharmacy services that more than a third of respondents reported using were for minor illnesses (58%) and for repeat prescriptions (47%). In fact, these were the only two services that the majority of respondents would go to a pharmacy for instead of their GP - 57% for minor illnesses and 52.5% for repeat prescriptions, respectively.

Furthermore, patients on the whole are still using pharmacies for traditional services, such as ordering prescriptions (96%) and disposing of old medication (80%).

While satisfaction with pharmacy services remains high, with almost half of respondents giving their pharmacy the highest satisfaction rating, patients evidently remain hesitant to use pharmacies as the first port of call.

Santosh Sahu, founder and CEO at Charac, said: "Though it is great to see patients largely very happy with the services provided by their pharmacies, it's clear that patient confidence in various services other than prescriptions is low. To push a 'pharmacy first' policy, more must be done to provide pharmacies with better resources and increase patient confidence.

"Both funding and improved digital access can make a tangible difference in equipping pharmacies for the future. Charac's platform is helping pharmacies improve their online presence, as well as helping them generate a steady income by digitising processes such as consultations and prescriptions."


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