Online retail giant Amazon has dominated the recent media and news channels with its opening of an online retail pharmacy. The pharmacy can be found at pharmacy.amazon.com and is basically a self-supporting website that’s actually separated from their primary online website. The website is basically designed for patients to have their prescriptions prescribed by their doctor or physician, then filled and delivered to you by Amazon Pharmacy. This Amazon Pharmacy business model very much is based on the concept of mail order pharmacies: Get the patient or customer to place the initial order initiated by their doctor, then continuously provide the customers with refills shipped to them at certain time intervals such as 30, 60 or 90 days.
What Amazon Pharmacy Offers Patients
Amazon certainly has been planning this move for a long time. Way back in August 2017, the big news of the day centered around their plans to enter the prescription drug arena by developing an online presence. We even discussed how Amazon would affect existing mail-order pharmacy operations and retail community pharmacy businesses by doing it.
So after almost three years of discussion and careful planning, Amazon pulls the trigger and opens their Amazon Pharmacy doors to the public. Rx fulfillment, dispensing and shipping are what they offer. Yet they are able to make the following promises to potential patients (customers):
- Providing prescription pharmacy pricing that’s “clear and understandable”
- Secure patient medical records
- Always having a Pharmacist available for patients (customers) to speak with and receive a personal consultation if necessary
- Never again standing in a line at a pharmacy
- Never having to worry again about your medications and refills (in other words, peace of mind and no anxiety for their patients)
It is very clear to see that Amazon Pharmacy offers something of “perceived” value to both potential new patients, and to their existing customer base. Ease of use online with a well thought out website, great pricing, no lines to stand in while waiting for your prescriptions, plus the peace of mind that Amazon’s reputation for outstanding customer service inherently leads to decreases of both the stress levels and worrying by the patients or their family members responsible for getting their prescription medications.
What are Amazon’s Potential Effects on Pharmacist Staffing and Salaries?
To answer this as best as we can, we all need to keep in mind several factors that Amazon is basing its decision on to enter the prescription medication market.
Service – According to several recent consumer surveys, customers are more willing today to pay for customer service than ever before. Especially consumers in the senior citizen population segment.
Pricing – Prescription sales comprise roughly 95% of the average independent’s gross revenue. Compare this to the large retail chains that average roughly an estimated 50% and make most of their profit on non-prescription items and front-end merchandise. Amazon is obviously well known for having lower prices on items than their “physically restricted” retail competitors, plus they are able to stock almost all items offered (or obtain them quickly from their partners and other resources).
Wait Time – the wait time in most retail chain stores is usually extremely long and, as consumer surveys have always shown, “very stressful” to many customers. This is even more true for elderly consumers and geriatric patients. Many times a patient is extremely ill and an hour or more wait can seem like an eternity to them.
An Aging Population – People are living longer than ever before and that means more prescription sales. In the US alone, projections estimate that the number of citizens 65 and older will more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060. Even more significant are the projections that the senior citizen (65 and older) age group’s share of the total population will increase from the current 15% to a staggering 24%.
Additional Reasons – Forbes also noted additional reasons that they were predicting Amazon Pharmacy to be a huge success: the ability to track your orders, the ease of setting up your account, choice of choosing your own packaging, online chat functionality, plus analytics to prevent adverse drug events or reactions from occurring.
What this all really means is that if Amazon Pharmacy is successful, many retail community pharmacies and mail-order specialty pharmacy businesses will most likely suffer with a loss of market share. It’s clear to see that Amazon offers something of “perceived’ value to everybody! The online ease of use is very appealing to both the Millennials and Baby Boomers alike these days. Whether a patient lives in a rural area or in the middle of a major metropolitan area or city, many will find utilizing Amazon Services to be extremely beneficial and switch to it. As will most consumers who are price conscious when shopping on a fixed budget, considering that over one-third of all online shopping, “price checks”, and product pricing comparisons now originate on Amazon anyway.
There’s no reason to believe that Amazon’s “experiment” in selling pharmacy prescriptions online will result in anything but tremendous results and success. With a recurring revenue model based on the continuous refilling of patients’ prescriptions, Amazon is ready to “rock and roll” and has had over three years to plan. The final results will obviously take place over the years to come, but the obvious initial results are both the loss in demand for retail pharmacists, and the projected increase in pharmacists out of work and looking for jobs. Lastly, the potential for the lowering of pharmacist salaries across the nation has been postulated by several labor industry experts to take place in a couple of years as a result of a “glut” of available retail candidates for fewer positions available than before Amazon Pharmacy opened their doors.
About Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing
Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing has been a leader in the Pharmacy staffing industry for over 31+ years now. We specialize in finding pharmacists the right job to meet their needs and skill sets. Known for being a full service pharmacy staffing agency, HCC has helped numerous pharmacists throughout the country find positions when job hunting.
Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing is known as a full service Pharmacy staffing company since 1989. With all the services that we provide to both pharmacies and pharmacists, it is sometimes easy to overlook the fact the we are one of the nation’s most successful and respected national pharmacy staffing firms. If you are a pharmacist who’s worrying about how the opening of Amazon Pharmacy will effect you, we urge you to talk with us. With placement positions immediately available, contact us today online or call us at 800-642-1652 to get started.
If you are a pharmacist who’s worrying about how the opening of Amazon Pharmacy will effect you, reach out to us here at HCC for help! We offer temporary positions and part-time work, as well as temporary to permanent placement opportunities.