Royal Mail has launched a new business division, named Royal Mail Health, following the increased demand for healthcare products to be delivered directly to customers’ homes.
In 2021, Royal Mail worked with businesses including online pharmacy company Pharmacy2U to trial same-day delivery of ‘over-the-counter’ medicines and faster deliveries of prescriptions to some postcode areas across the UK. According to Royal Mail, these trials were found to provide customers with a convenient and secure way to order and receive vital medicine from the comfort of their own homes. It is now reviewing options to roll out these services more widely.
In creating the Royal Mail Health division, the company is working across the healthcare industry, including with local pharmacies, to ensure customers can quickly access the healthcare and medical products they need, through whichever route they choose. Royal Mail Health is intended to give customers better access to healthcare and to position Royal Mail as a leader in the industry. The division will initially focus on the following four areas of healthcare delivery: providing healthcare direct to homes, creating local-to-local networks to support pharmacies, digitally connecting community pharmacies and patients and checking on vulnerable people.
Royal Mail Health will be developing its partnership with Pharmacy2U in 2022 to make sure that National Health Service (NHS) patients who are prescribed medication can order and receive it quickly and conveniently with free delivery. The UK prescription market is growing 3.5% year on year with 5% of prescriptions now online, according to NHS figures. There is increasing consumer demand for access to prescription medicines delivered directly to people’s homes, reinforced by changes in online shopping behaviors in the last two years. According to a recent survey, almost a quarter (24%) of UK adults have ordered a prescription online and had it delivered to their home. Additionally, 35% of adults who haven’t used this service would consider doing so. This increases to almost half (49%) for 18- to 44-year-olds.
Royal Mail’s new division has invested £1m (US$1.2m) in Charac, the NHS-integrated, one-stop platform for independent community pharmacies. This is to support the changing role of the local community pharmacist as the nation’s healthcare system evolves. With Charac, local pharmacies will be able to provide an online ordering system for their patients’ healthcare products as well as enable a fully digitized way to book follow-up consultations and services in the local pharmacy.
Building upon the Royal Mail’s role in the pandemic, Royal Mail Health will explore opportunities for posties to check on vulnerable people, ensuring they get access to the care and support they need. Royal Mail Health is identifying potential partners to work with in this space and planning trials. Stefan Kulik has been hired as managing director of Royal Mail Health to lead the company’s expansion into the industry, supporting healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. Kulik has a breadth of experience working in healthcare, with previous roles held at companies including Johnson & Johnson.
Kulik said, “Royal Mail is uniquely placed to help the nation manage its health more easily, by bringing together two professions at the heart of the community – the postie and the chemist. As one of the country’s most trusted institutions, this is the right time for Royal Mail to build on the support it has provided during the pandemic and its existing partnerships with online pharmacy providers. We know the importance of delivering care to the nation’s doorstep and ensuring the reliable and safe delivery of medicines to ensure patients get the healthcare they need at the right time. We want to help everyone across the UK access their health needs quickly and conveniently, in whichever way they choose.”