Nobody loves going to a pharmacy #reducefriction

As a student of “friction”, I often jot down my observations of friction points in day to day experiences in my Moleskine. I’m experimenting with sharing a few observations on my blog, starting with this perspective on going to a pharmacy.

Friction: ​One of the worst things about getting sick or having an unwell family member is going to the pharmacy. Nobody loves to go to a pharmacy (Check Yelp Reviews for your nearest Pharmacy). The first visit often has the worst timing. Besides being in pain, a user may be drowsy and not in a condition to drive or take an Uber to the pharmacy. Upon visiting the pharmacy, she is forced to fill out a paper-form and wait in line to get her order filled. Most major pharmacies offer delivery of generic medications for repeat orders. They periodically ship medicines from a centralized warehouse, so it works for repeat orders. Pharmacies, employers, care providers and insurers are incentivized to improve patient’s health, but lack an efficient way to deliver prescription medications on-demand. Low usage frequency and regulations have dissuaded local pharmacies to offer this service. Startups like PillPack, NimbleRx, Zipdrug and others are attempting to solve this pain point. Given regulatory and scaling constraints, it may take a few years before these services gain mass adoption.

Solution: On-demand services with scale such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates and Instacart are best suited to solve this problem. Won’t it be cool, if they delivered prescribed medications from a local pharmacy directly to a customer’s home or hospital. As an extra credit, the customer could even make her co-payment for the medication via their Uber, Lyft, Postmates or the Instacart app. On-demand companies can reduce friction in the customer experience and add durable value by winning a customer’s mindshare for “convenience”.


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