In Depth: TELUS Health Launches Virtual Pharmacy Service In Canada

A telco launching a virtual pharmacy service in Canada?

It sounds weird unless you’re talking about TELUS who have heavily invested in health and other areas over the years. Thus having a virtual pharmacy in their case is a natural extension of what they do.

So let’s get to the details. TELUS Health launched its digital Virtual Pharmacy service to help improve medication adherence by offering Canadians the opportunity to set up automatic refill reminders for prescription medications that are shipped directly to their doorstep. Importantly, the service allows users to have unlimited one-on-one video and phone consultations with pharmacists from the comfort of their home, while also providing them with tools to keep track of their family’s medications through the service’s online dashboard.

TELUS Health’s Virtual Pharmacy allows users to conveniently book appointments for pharmacy services including video or phone consultations with a licensed pharmacist. The service empowers users to better manage a key aspect of their health through a combination of proven technology and personal service from caring and knowledgeable pharmacists. Virtual Pharmacy can save Canadians time while reducing the stress that may come with trying to get to a pharmacy on time to pick up a regular medication, and seeking pharmacy counsel in a crowded store, particularly as many continue to navigate COVID-19 requirements. It is also an ideal digital tool for caregivers who manage medications for others.

That sounds great. But there’s a big reason why this is a game changer. I spoke to Jason Kennedy who is a pharmacist working with TELUS Health and helped in creating this Virtual Pharmacy. In our conversation he highlighted a number of things including:

  • One-third of Canadians missed picking up their prescription medications on time in the past year with the majority citing their busy lifestyle as the reason;
  • Among these respondents, all of whom have their medications partially or fully covered by a benefits plan, nearly 60 per cent said it was because it slipped their mind and almost 50 per cent said it was due to work and family commitments.

But the most important thing that he highlighted to me was that when it comes to being able to give patients information about the medication that they are taking, it is extremely hard to do so in your traditional pharmacy setting due to the hustle and bustle that exists in that setting. By doing it virtually, the pharmacist has the undivided attention of the patient. That’s the game changing part in my mind as that’s going to ensure better outcomes for the patient.

TELUS Health Virtual Pharmacy is available in English in all provinces, excluding Quebec, through a free mobile app for both iOS and Android devices; the French version of the service will be available in the coming months. Canadian employers can also add Virtual Pharmacy to their workplace health benefits programs providing employees with convenient options to more easily access prescription medications while also supporting improved adherence which has been reported to help reduce absenteeism. Employers can learn more about adding Virtual Pharmacy to their workplace benefits plan here.

My take on this is that this is game changing stuff that I can get on board with. And I applaud TELUS for rolling this out.

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