We all hate waiting in line. It has been called a “timeless form of torture” commemorated by famous authors, including Dr. Suess in the dreaded “Waiting Place” in Oh the Places You’ll Go. This common frustration with waiting explains why e-commerce has grown so dramatically. For the first time, e-commerce sales surpassed $1 trillion. Buying things online keeps us out of the “Waiting Place.” We simply get our purchases delivered to the front door. FedEx is at my house at least twice a week.
But there is one item that people still wait in line for – prescriptions. Even with approximately 210 to 270 million digital buyers in the United States, we still go to the brick-and-mortar pharmacy around the corner. Why? We can’t compare prices to other prescriptions on the shelf, sample before buying, or return the meds if we don’t like them. Prescriptions are not like other commodities that make our shopping experiences convenient.
Mail-order pharmacy is taking its time to catch up to other e-commerce trends, but it is getting more popular with patients. According to a consumer survey by Software Advice, the three things driving patients to use pharmacy delivery are convenience, cost, and not waiting in line!
Consumers reported that getting their medication delivered was more convenient because the online prescription service was easy to use and order refills. Most respondents saw a net savings of about $20 per prescription using an online pharmacy, which for older patients resulted in thousands of dollars in savings over a year. Finally, not having the wait in line made people happy because they saved time.
There has been an increase in mail-order pharmacy options. New companies are popping up, and establishing pharmacies are getting into the game—for example, Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs and GoodRX. Mail-order pharmacies tend to work better for recurring prescriptions, typically treating chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. The stats on adherence look promising for mail-order pharmacies as well, and we look forward to not waiting in line as much.