Walgreens selling Boots
(Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

The largest pharmacy-led health and beauty chain in the UK, Boots, has launched a new report that reveals increasing popularity of digital healthcare services amongst patients.

The ‘Boots Digital Healthcare Trends Report 2021’ finds that 88 per cent of patients who used digital healthcare services during the pandemic plan to continue to use them in the future.

The report captures a patient survey, expert insights, data from Boots, and broader industry studies.

Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots, said: “Customers turned to digital healthcare to access support for a range of conditions during the pandemic, with many finding they liked the speed and convenience it offers.

“Wider availability of low cost, pay-as-you go digital services can also help to relieve some of the extra pressures imposed on our NHS by Covid-19.”

Following this response, Boots have introduced a range of new digital-first healthcare services with GP-style appointments that cost as little as £15.

Key findings of the report are:

  1. A New Era of On-Demand Healthcare: Expansion of digital services during the pandemic has allowed 65 per cent of GP appointments to switch to telephone or video consultations. The change has been accepted well by patients.
  2. Convenience and Speed: About 59 per cent of the surveyed people said they would continue to use digital services as it is a convenient way to look after their health.
  3. On-Demand Healthcare: The report showed that patients do not want to wait when it comes to their health. Boots Online Doctor services are particularly popular among the 20 to 34 age group, representing more than half of patients’ group.
  4. Fast Healthcare Services: Almost 48 per cent of respondents preferred paying for treatments as and when needed, and thought digital would be quicker than accessing care through their GP.
  5. Comfort, Convenience and Safety: Convenience offered by digital healthcare services is highly valued by patients, with a majority of Boots Online Doctor patients accessing the service via smart phone.
  6. Face-to-Face Options: Face-to-face interaction with a pharmacist is still very much valued by patients. Boots Pharmacists can provide medicine and general healthcare advice and prove that human interaction is still a vital part of good health.
  7. A New Way: Technological advances has opened new routes to healthcare and changed peoples’ outlook. Only 30 per cent of respondents said they would return to face-to-face appointments with GPs for serious and urgent needs.
  8. Community Pharmacy’s Partnership with GPs: Insights from the report revealed that by 2026 all newly qualified pharmacists will be able to prescribe certain medicines, and there would be an Independent Prescriber in every store.

Donovan added: “Boots is in a great position to help re-shape healthcare for the better.”

The chain is providing access to primary care services and advice online as well as in stores.

Over the summer, it launched the Boots Health Hub – a new, digital home for over 100 wide-ranging healthcare services, and more recently Online Doctor services for 45 healthcare conditions – from acne to sexual health and family planning, alongside weight loss support and menopause treatments.

If you want to share your stories and/or experiences with us, please send an email to [email protected]