Covid-19: Boots fast tracks online video consultations

Boots UK has announced it is trialling a new GP and pharmacy online video consultation service.

The spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus has prompted Boots to bring forward the trial, which has been a stated part of its digital transformation plans for some time. It has been fast tracked to assist people isolating at home due to the pandemic.

The service is available thanks to Boots’ newly extended long-term partnership with digital healthcare provider, LIVI. The two companies are working together through what Boots described as “approved and regulated routes” to trial how patients can remotely access a Boots pharmacist via the LIVI app.

Video consultations would be used by customers to get general health advice, and to have a face-to-face conversations about their own prescription medications.

Richard Bradley, director of pharmacy for Boots UK, remarked: “With millions of patients self-isolating at home – particularly the elderly or those with underlying health conditions – access to expert health advice without having travel to a pharmacy or GP surgery is even more crucial.

“We are pleased to work with innovators like LIVI to continue transforming online and high street access to healthcare advice, medical services and medicines.”

Boots said the service has the potential to help reduce pressure on the NHS, a long-term stated aim of the retailer and part of its wider plans to help digitise healthcare on the high street. The partnership with LIVI will also result in a future expansion of an in-store pilot of NHS-commissioned services to several new Boots UK stores.

These stores will offer the LIVI video GP service via a tablet in-store, as well as a range of diagnostic tools, such as blood pressure monitoring. With agreement from the NHS, these services will be added to throughout 2020, and this process follows a successful trial in two stores last autumn.

Juliet Bauer, UK managing director at LIVI, said: “With our NHS facing unprecedented pressure, we are pleased to be opening up access to pharmacists on our platform and offering more people digital healthcare opportunities.”

Despite its government-designated ‘essential’ retail status, Boots has closed around 60 stores over the last week, focusing its resources on community stores where demand has been highest. Airport and city centre stores were among the shops in its portfolio to shut.

Meanwhile, at the start of March, Boots announced that Christie & Co has been appointed to manage the sale of 44 pharmacies across England and Wales. These pharmacies are part of Boots’ plans, announced in June 2019, to consolidate or close around 200 stores in 2020.

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