We talked to Quintus Liu of Healthera about same-day on-demand medication delivery, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Quintus Liu: Fortunately, we’ve all kept in good health throughout the pandemic. I managed to get on the plane to see my family in Vancouver, Canada – about two days before the government issued travel restrictions right before Christmas. It’s great to spend quality time with family, doing work around the house, and building a home gym. Now I’m back to work, refreshed and ready to take on another challenging year!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Healthera.
Quintus Liu: I founded Healthera with my two classmates from Cambridge University, Martin and Jin, during our final year of study. We initially set out to build the world’s smartest medicine reminder system that could help millions of patients remember to take and reorder their medication using technology they already owned – their smartphones.
The lightbulb moment came when we realised that the best way to offer patients a digital solution for their medicines, is through the same channel where they acquired their medicines each month – their local pharmacies. Since then, we have built and scaled a platform that now connects over 1200 pharmacies (10% of the UK market) and brings millions of prescription items to patients’ hands and doorsteps.
When the pandemic hit, it became even more apparent how valuable this network of local pharmacies is. Our local pharmacy partners cover more than 40 million patients within a 5-mile radius, and most of them have additional capacity to dispense and deliver more medicines. We immediately began working closely with our partners to build solutions that allowed them to serve more local patients in this critical period.
How does Healthera innovate?
Quintus Liu: We innovate through both our technology and business model.
From a technical perspective, our platform integrates into NHS systems through multiple touchpoints, securely passing clinical data and streamlining the pharmacist’s workflow in dispensing medication. We extensively use data to support our product design and give our partner pharmacies feedback regularly. The mobile app renders a complicated journey of requesting prescriptions into an experience as simple as ordering a meal on Just Eat while being supported by a local pharmacist whom the patient trusts.
More so, we’re proud of the business model we’ve innovated. There are online pharmacies that order medicines for patients and delivers by post. But we are the only company that has made this platform available to any pharmacy on the high street, whether it’s an independent pharmacy or a part of an enterprise chain.
Our model allows us to be the only company that can facilitate the same-day delivery service while benefiting thousands of local businesses, the only sustainable way of making this service the new consumer standard.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Quintus Liu: There was a bit of uncertainty as we first entered the pandemic. But we soon realised, as did our partner pharmacies, that the pandemic was only going to accelerate the shift of customer behaviour – more online shopping, and more on-demand deliveries. We count our blessings that pharmacies are essential businesses that must stay open, so we are working hard to service their needs around the clock.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Quintus Liu: We are lucky to have a great team that is invested in the journey and passionate about our customers. We grew our team by around 28% since March 2020 to support the business’s growing requirements.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Quintus Liu: When we first launched the company, we used a basic out-of-box CRM system for sales and account management.
But with the introduction of the on-demand delivery service, we quickly realised that we needed to monitor the customer experience more closely, and we had the data available to do so.
We have an excellent data team that continuously generates deeper and broader analysis from our data, both for our internal team and for our pharmacy partners to better understand and improve their customer service quality. We have already helped our partner pharmacies achieve a 60% reduction in prescription turnaround time in the last year and dramatically increase overall customer satisfaction.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Quintus Liu: Last year, we were awarded a small grant from Innovate UK under the calling of helping all UK sectors rebuild after the effects of COVID-19. The funding allowed us to accelerate our development of a same-day delivery platform, and we’re currently working hard to roll the platform out nation-wide.
This is an excellent example of the government successfully stimulating the local economy with perhaps the greatest lever – technology infrastructure. Many of our partner pharmacies have already taken advantage of this new development and generated thousands of pounds in additional revenue from delivery fees and increasing sales volumes.
Your final thoughts?
Quintus Liu: We are humbled by the opportunity to work in a market that serves millions of people with their critical drugs. We have learned a lot in the past year, and we have exciting plans this year to help even more partner pharmacies play a bigger role in the health and well-being of their local neighborhoods.
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