How Using A Fully Digital Pharmacy Service Can Help Prevent The Spread Of Viruses Like Coronavirus
Around the world, panic buying toilet roll and hand sanitiser until the shelves are bare has been a widespread response to the coronavirus or COVID-19. But just because it is a common reaction, doesn’t make it the best.
There are other much more useful, practical and affordable ways to look after yourself and stop the spread of this virus.
Staying home when you’re feeling unwell – particularly if you have a runny nose, fever or cough - and avoiding public spaces is much more advisable. The Ministry of Health states that: “We know from other outbreaks that self-isolation is effective, and most people are good at keeping themselves – and others – safe and well”.
Life goes on
Life doesn’t stop when you are feeling under the weather or you are concerned about COVID-19. If you are stuck at home out of choice or necessity, you still need to get your groceries, stave off boredom, keep connected with work and family, and receive and maintain your usual medication. Although groceries can be delivered, Netflix watched, and emails checked, sometimes it’s not possible to send someone to pick up your medicines for you or in worse scenario during a lockdown, access to a physical pharmacy might be limited.
For most coronavirus cases globally, the impact has been minor or moderate, and rest and staying at home has been enough for people to recover. But it has the potential to be much more severe, or even deadly, for the elderly, immunocompromised people, or those suffering from respiratory issues. For these at-risk groups, they may not have travelled to the worst affected countries; been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19; or have any symptoms of the virus themselves - a cough, temperature of at least 38 degrees and shortness of breath. Yet they are still understandably fearful of public spaces, including their pharmacy.
Sometimes it’s easy to avoid public spaces like shopping malls or entertainment venues. But the danger of avoiding all public areas means people might be deterred from getting the medical help they need. Avoiding contact with their local pharmacy might result in people not filling their script or collecting their repeats, or stop them from purchasing over the counter medicines, to get the relief they need from their symptoms.
The danger of incorrect medicine management
To avoid visiting their local pharmacy, some people might go to the lengths of not taking the correct dosage of their medication to make it last longer. Or they might want to stop taking their medicine altogether.
But this is dangerous. Incorrectly managing medication takes a toll on our physical and emotional wellbeing, making us more susceptible to catching a virus.
That’s why there needs to be a healthier, practical response – which doesn’t include stockpiling on loo roll - and where digital healthcare can step in to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe.
Virtual healthcare solutions must step-up
New Zealand Health IT, or NZHIT, contribute to developing and implementing innovative digital health solutions to create and enable a healthier New Zealand. They advocate for having a world-class healthcare system in New Zealand. Their chief executive, Scott Arrol, says: “Virtual healthcare should be playing a big part in reducing the risks of major global issues such as the current outbreak of the coronavirus disease. Virtual healthcare reduces barriers preventing people getting the help they need, when they need it and where they need it most.”
Virtual healthcare responses, which include online doctor’s consultations and telemonitoring, are not yet accessible for all New Zealand, but the call to adopt them more widely has become more urgent since the COVID-19 outbreak.
PillDrop – New Zealand’s first Ministry of Health licensed digital pharmacy
Another digital solution is delivering medication to people’s homes. Since November 2019, PillDrop has been providing this service, including for people who are in self-isolation. “To do our part in keeping people safe and still maintain the access to medications, PillDrop has introduced a flat rate of $5 for delivery across Auckland during this critical time of need” says PillDrop founder, Suzanne Burge. As per usual, PillDrop offers free standard prescriptions, families can receive all their medications and over the counter remedies on the same day (if they’re in Auckland) and receive 24/7 support over the phone from dedicated pharmacy staff.
Protecting yourself and the community
How New Zealand continues to respond to the coronavirus shapes how we respond to future pandemics and viruses, including the flu. Promoting sensible measures like washing your hands, coughing and sneezing into tissues, staying home if you’re unwell and getting your medicines delivered, not only protects you but your wider community and healthcare professionals. Taking these measures helps keep vulnerable children and adults safe when the impact of a virus like COVID-19 can be severe. And it adds another layer of protection for healthcare professionals, preventing them from getting sick and enabling them to continue providing vital care to the people who need it the most.
New Zealand – A focus on keeping COVID-19 contained
As at the time of writing, New Zealand can trace all its five confirmed cases, which means there are no verified community transmissions. New Zealand Herald reports that, “Of the confirmed cases, four have not required hospital-level care. The fifth was discharged home from Auckland Hospital on Tuesday under the care of their GP.”
To keep COVID-19 contained, each of us has a responsibility to look after the health of ourselves and each other. Healthcare providers must do what they can to prevent the spread of pandemics, including adopting new technologies and new ways for communities to access their service.
Where to go for advice
If you suspect you may have coronavirus or begin developing symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider first, before you visit. There is a dedicated COVID-19 number: 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) where you can seek advice on whether you need to isolate yourself.
The next step in prevention - Joining PillDrop is easy and fast
It’s easy to switch to a digital pharmacy and take advantage of the extra protection that comes from having your medication delivered. Call PillDrop today on 09 276 9090 or 0800 745 537.