People visit doctors and may be prescribed drugs. But people usually buy those drugs from drugstores (also called pharmacies or chemists in some countries), so drugstores are obviously key players in the ‘world of drugs.’ But drugstores typically do far more than sell prescription drugs. Most large drugstore chains offer a range of wellness, nutrition, health and beauty products, in addition to over-the-counter, non-prescription drugs and ‘natural products.’
There are already many thousands of putative digital health applications; so many in fact, that it is a huge challenge to find the ‘best’ app to address a specific health need. The start-up company Happtique has attempted to address this issue by creating a platform from which health providers can ‘prescribe’ the appropriate app from a validated collection.
But will physicians be the first healthcare workers to ‘prescribe’ apps? As long as we think of the process as akin to prescribing, then perhaps they will be. However, what if a drugstore had a display of apps? Would people pick up an app at the same time as they buy hair dye, multivitamins and a supplement? Or might a pharmacist recommend an app at the same time that they fill a prescription and provide advice on how best to use the prescribed drug?
“I know that you have trouble remembering to take your pills on time Mr. Smith, so perhaps you’d like to try this app for your iPhone that will help send helpful reminders?”
“ I've found this Android app to be very helpful to assist joggers in properly warming-up Ms. Brown.”
A few drugstore chains are beginning to leverage their databases of the prescriptions their customers have filled to provide more comprehensive, related offerings. But these efforts may be difficult as drugstores do not have core expertise in the management and provisioning of information, and there are many potential competitors attempting to offer personal, health-management platforms to individuals. WebMD is a good example of a consumer health informatics company active in this field.