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One year of Well Digital

12 months transforming pharmacy.

A year ago today we launched Well Digital with a mission to bring pharmacy into the digital age. We were frustrated at how far behind pharmacy was:

Pharmacies have ignored the digital era for too long. It’s time to embrace it. To use technology to help people and improve healthcare in ways we never thought possible.

As we summed up in our first blog post, “getting your prescription needs to be simpler and faster”. That’s still our priority.

Lots has changed since we started. From a team of one — me! — we are now a team of 16 software engineers, pharmacists, designers and more.

We’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still loads to do to realise our ambition.

As we celebrate our 1st birthday, I thought I’d look back on some highlights and lessons we’ve learned.

Over the past 12 months we have:

1. Built a new store finder.

020fa-1pjjanpdkubxppt8r2ocp-w-1 Our new store finder

It’s the main reason people come to our website today. Now it’s simpler and faster to find your local store or opening hours.

It’s not done — we are working on improvements right now — but it’s better.

2. Hosted show and tells. Every. Single. Week.

ac740-1p0r_ljtfwy6kx8btz-h7hg One of our weekly show and tells

It’s hard work but it’s worth it.

We use them to showcase what we’ve been up to and get feedback. It’s open to everyone in the business, and we even have guest speakers sometimes — if you’re interested, get in touch.

It’s a great discipline, and forces us to be open and honest — even when things don’t go to plan.

We’ve also had lots of fun designing posters each week:

3. Explored how to make prescriptions better better for customers and colleagues.

0_8Ppb3fv93qT88THL Richard, one of our pharmacists, helping to map our prescription service

Alongside build a new store finder, this was one of the first things we did as a team. We worked with Common Good to take a step back from the day-to-day to figure out how to improve prescriptions.

We learned a lot and identified a lot of pain points and opportunities. The work we did in this 12 week early discovery has been the basis of a lot of what we’ve done since.

4. Tested a new, simpler website focused on the needs of customers.

0_StGEgKqKPRP3dF4C beta.well.co.uk

It’s a lot faster and more accessible than our existing website. You can check it out in beta here.

5. Looked into the world of digital healthcare.

1_llxmUNU7RpElxZZxvGExhQ End of medication course check-in: one of our digital healthcare prototypes

We teamed up with design studio ustwo to explore opportunities and new ventures in the digital healthcare space.

Our design challenge was: how could Well provide wrap-around services that improve the prescription experience?

We designed, tested and validated a set of concepts — like the check-in prototype above— that helped us think through our strategy more clearly.

6. Visited dozens of stores across the country.

0_bXKChKV2gCn0oR-y One of our road trips…

Well has over 780 stores across the UK. As a team we made sure we visit stores regularly to speak with colleagues and test new products in the wild.

7. Trialled notifications to customers when their medicines are ready to collect.

1_W1SDGYGyh2e21EueFHurAQ Examples of the SMS messages we sent to customers

We ran a controlled trial of collection notifications in some of our stores. It worked: we found it drove more collections, more quickly.

Customers gave us great feedback about it and it saved colleagues time, too.

8. Shared loudly what we’re up to, across our business and sector.

0_XgVy4Dhup1P9sFYH The digital team at the 2017 Leading Well conference.

Building great digital products is crucial, but not enough on its own to transform a business. It’s important to bring people along, get their feedback and expertise. Transformation is a team sport.

For that reason, we’ve invested a lot in communicating and engaging people across our business in what we’re doing. We’ve spoken at lots of internal conferences, team meetings, boards and inductions.

We’ve also shared what we’re doing beyond our organisation.

As Chris wrote in a previous blog:

Probably the thing that has surprised people most since I started at Well is how much we’ve shared what we are doing, internally and externally. I’ve even had anecdotal feedback that our competitors are enjoying the free research we are giving them. I hope they like it.

One thing we’ve not been as good at as I’d have liked is blogging. Doing so much in a short amount of time, we’ve not often managed to make time to blog. In our second year, we’re aiming to get better at this.

9. Designed and tested digital tools to support medicines check-ups.

The New Medicines Service is a great NHS service we provide in our stores that helps patients who have been prescribed certain medications for the first time.

Unfortunately, not many customers are aware of it and it’s currently quite tricky for our store colleagues to provide. It relies on lots of paper, memory and systems that don’t talk to each other.

We think there’s a big opportunity to improve the way we provide this service, supported by a well designed digital platform.

So we built — and tested in stores — working software focused on three core elements of the service: asking customers to give their consent, helping pharmacists to keep on top of tasks and getting the right data out of our existing in-store pharmacy systems.

10. Started to get serious about design.

0_CpaKhEg4m5MruGdf A sneak peak of Labcoat, our work-in-progress design system

In the process of building products, we’ve started to think about shared principles and systems that help us design consistent experiences for our users.

Although we’re still a relatively small team, we’ve already built a number of different products. Our designers meet up regularly to share design patterns across our products.

We’ve also started to pull together design kits and systems to help speed up design and make things consistent.

11. Run a code club, open to all.

1_67qjuuVpUBsCq6hoCVQtNg Advert for our first Code Club

Computer programming isn’t magic.

We wanted to take some of the mystery out of it for our colleagues, and help people learn new skills in the process. So, earlier this year Paul Smith ran our first code club for colleagues across Well.

We’ll be running more things like this.

12. Launched the UK’s first Viagra subscription service, Eddie.

1_mChUwMaJ4sRrM69cW2_mDA Our new Viagra subscription service, Eddie

Earlier this month, we launched a new venture focused on erectile dysfunction. I wrote last week about why and how we did.

13. Sent out prescriptions to the first customers using our preview digital pharmacy service.

0_gcF_7tzTzmM7cHAX Our preview digital pharmacy service

This has been our biggest and trickiest piece of work so far.

In November, we started building an iPhone app and fulfilment operation for a new kind of pharmacy service.

Just over 4 months later, we served our first customers. We’ll be talking lots more about this in the coming weeks as we improve and scale out our service to more customers.

If you’re interested in early access, sign up here.

14. And finally… we managed to print direct from our Macbooks.

What’s next

It’s been an amazing year! We’ve tried to balance research and learning with building and shipping stuff that makes a real difference to our users.

Thank you to our awesome team, colleagues and customers for all the support so far.

We’ve got lots more to do, and some exciting plans to share over the coming weeks.

One year of Well Digital
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