Bringing pharmacy into the digital age.
I’m Chris Ellett, Director of Transformation at Well. We’re the UK’s largest independent chain of pharmacies with 800 shops up and down the country.
Today we launched Well Digital — an in-house tech start-up in our Manchester HQ.
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.
We’ve got two priorities — create brilliant new services our customers love, and build tools that give our pharmacists time back to do what they do best: keeping us all healthy.
And we hope you join us on the journey. From here on out, we’ll be sharing our work out in the open, on this blog.
Over the past 70 years, the world’s moved.
And we’ve moved with it.
Early beginnings at our Chatham store. Credit.
Since the 1940s, when Well started, the local pharmacist has been a fixture on your corner and in your community.
In 1985, we were one of the first pharmacies to introduce a company-wide IT system. And over the past couple of years, we have put big investments into automating repeat prescriptions.
Flash forward to today. We all live our lives online. Buying groceries, booking a holiday, finding love — companies like Amazon and AirBnB have raised our expectations.
But we’re not just going to stick a website on top of what we already do. We need to rethink the way we work.
In fact, we need to rethink the way the whole industry works.
So what does ‘digital’ mean in our world?
To be honest, it’s a word our industry has mostly ignored until now.
Patients are still dealing with pharmacies in the same way they did before we all had smartphones.
So change needs to happen soon. For starters, getting your prescription needs to be simpler and faster. After all, the technology’s there — things that used to take years to develop now can be prototyped and tested in days.
It’s time to create a natively digital healthcare system. A system that takes less time to keep more people healthy. And we’re not in this alone: the NHS, technology companies like Google and Apple, and start-ups like Babylon and Echo are all working to transform healthcare.
I can’t wait.
The story so far
I joined Well 12 weeks ago from Co-op, where I was working with Mike Bracken and his team. They taught me a lot about being agile, open and user focused. In fact, it’s fair to say Co-op Digital inspired us to start Well Digital. So I owe them all a big thank you.
Since then, I’ve been getting to know our people and processes.
I’ve talked to Steph in Manchester, who’s changing the way we communicate across Well. I’ve met Lauren in Fishponds, who’s a big part of rolling out our new repeat prescriptions service.
And I’ve spent time at our facility in Stoke, where all those prescriptions get dispensed. Seriously impressive.
Well’s new automated dispensing facility in Stoke.
And I’ve been getting up to speed on the plans for our new internal digital platform, The Hub. It’ll have all the information our colleagues need to do their jobs — right in one place.
So there’s already some brilliant foundations in place for Well Digital to build on. We have the right people and right passion. Now it’s up to me to make sure they get the digital services they need to work smarter.
Join the team
We’re really excited about starting Well Digital. Fingers crossed, you are too.
If you want to work on stuff that matters and help us build Well Digital from the ground up, get in touch. We’re hiring our first design, software engineering and product management roles — right here in Manchester. With such incredible tech and creative communities, it’s a place we’re proud to call home.
We’ll be sharing our stories with you in the weeks to come.
Watch this space.
Director of Transformation
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