“Pharmacies are healthcare’s front lines in local communities. We need to bring them up to speed,”
Pharmacies — and the pharmacy experience — haven’t changed much in the past few decades. For a process so familiar to so many people, picking up a prescription can still be rather mysterious and frustrating. If you are lucky enough to have your prescription sent to the right pharmacy on the first try, chances are it won’t be ready to pick up at a convenient time. Or if you, like many people who work nine-to-five, drop off your prescription after work, you’re likely to face long lines and an uncertain wait time.
In the world of the 2020 pandemic, where customers can order groceries online and stream new-release films on their living room televisions, the old way just doesn’t cut it anymore. Especially in pharmacies, which are especially critical when health is on the general public’s mind.
Fortunately, WBA has a history of finding ways to improve the pharmacy experience. The company famously pioneered the “drive-thru pharmacy” at a national level. And their wildly popular Walgreens app, released in 2017, has five-star status with nearly three million ratings. In 2019, WBA was already en route to a full-scale digital transformation to make their services even more personal and convenient. But with the pandemic pushing all businesses more fully into the digital realm — plus social-distancing protocols — the company needed to do even more for their customers, fast.
As Matt Harker, WBA’s VP of global marketing strategy and transformation, put it, “I think healthcare is waking up to the conveniences that we’ve seen in so many other industries.”
This is where Mehra and Tinto came in.
Together, the leaders aimed to create a more personalized omnichannel pharmacy experience than the world has ever seen. This meant making everything digital. Touchless. Frictionless. Adding delivery options. And achieving all of this and more with an unprecedented level of personalization — at global scale. For example, customers could receive personalized recommendations based on past purchases, right when they’re about to run out of a product they’ve taken regularly for years. If the customer chooses, she can pick up her purchase via drive-thru — a capability that, until now, has only been available for prescriptions. And when she arrives at the drive-thru window, the staff will already have any filled prescriptions on hand for her to pick up. They’ll also remind her that she’s due for her annual flu shot.
If WBA’s mission to help patients lead happier, healthier lives — and if the way to get there is through hyper-personalized customer experiences — this is what it looks like in the 21st century. As Mehra said, “Health is the most personal thing in the world. And if there’s one category that needs to be personalized, human, and customized to each and every one of our customers and patients, it’s got to be healthcare.”