Queuing up in a pharmacy to sort out your medicine when you’re about to chunder is not the greatest start to anyone’s day.
SendaScript is the latest app to hit the prescription service market that aims to change the landscape of this painful experience by allowing users to take a photo of their prescription and send it to a pharmacist. The participating pharmacist then preps the necessary medication and lets the user know when they can pick it up. Payment of the medicine can also be made through the user’s phone, essentially streamlining what was once an arduous routine.
Fabian McCann is the founder of SendaScript and has had a long passion for developing easy, innovative and inexpensive mobile communication for pharmacy needs. An established pharmacist himself, McCann believed that the current technology and cost for independent pharmacy was unsustainable, not returning the money invested. His insight in customer and industry experience led him to believe that all pharmacies would need to innovate their customer and business links in the future to be sustainable.
“Out of all of the retail sectors in business, communication is the fundamental basis of a pharmacy’s commercial success,” he said.
“SendaScript is all about the core function of a customer getting their prescription dispensed. The goal was to provide a method for dividing the customer base between customers who need to speak to the pharmacist and therefore require personal service, or customers who only require a fast prescription service.”
The way the technology works as both a mobile ordering and retail platform is intuitive and has the potential to seriously disrupt the heavily controlled industry. The app is free to download and the service runs 24/7 allowing any pharmacy running SendaScript’s program to receive prescriptions and connect directly to customers who are in need of medicine. This approach not only makes the process easier, but has the ability to drive business growth by alerting potential customers to a pharmacy in SendaScript’s network.
How does it achieve this?
SendaScript has an in-app feature that can be switched on by the user called POSDeal. It uses a GPS functionality that connects merchants and shoppers to the stores and to the streets. When switched on users are alerted to any local promotions or deals within their vicinity. Merchants release these promotions in real-time to drive traffic and create awareness, say during slow trading times. The mutual benefit is that the pharmacy gains in-store traffic and the user has access to attractive savings on the purchases they want.
McCann also explains that security is not an issue with the app as being in the medical field, SendaScript must take user privacy seriously and retains no medical data from their prescription orders.
“The company is the most confidential, ethical and cyber-security conscious available in pharmacy today,” says McCann.
Some of the challenges in starting up the app was finding developers that understood the unusual transaction and the restrictions placed on it. He also says that the industry is an Oligarch – a market place where wholesalers, pharmacy guild and drug companies all have so much money, resources and networking geared towards them.
“Playing in the chess game is slow because so much thought is involved, as each move can be deadly.”
As well as this, a lot of customer and staff feedback was required for designing the User Interface because of the main demographic of the app being over the age of 40.
On the business funding front, McCann says he struggled with attracting investments from venture capitalists because of the highly closed-off industry and its competitor’s stronghold. Their explanation, as McCann says, was that there would be “better startup investment alternatives elsewhere.”
This in turn meant that self funding was the only option and development of the app was slow – an issue that mustn’t be overlooked when there are competitors constantly moving into the space.
“Mobile speed to market is the key,” says McCann. “We would have preferred to have more resources and definitely a comprehensive PR and marketing strategy before I made it known to the world.”
Regardless of this, the past obstacles don’t seem to have impeded on SendaScript’s growing success today. What McCann started in 2011 and terms “ridiculous” for a timeframe in getting an app on the market, is now a finalist in the 2014 Australian Mobile & App Awards.