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General manager Tom Bostwick tells the story behind the new digital pharmacy, Birdi.
Prescriptions represent a significant and growing share of healthcare spending, but purchasing them can be complicated and time consuming. Enter Birdi, which is positioning itself as “the fast and friendly digital drug store of the future.” Its mission is to make prescription home delivery better by offering low drug prices, free and flexible delivery options, and expert help when customers need it.
Here, Birdi general manager Tom Bostwick, PharmD, tells Pharma Commerce the story behind the new digital pharmacy and explains why the prescription home delivery market needs to change.
Pharma Commerce: What is the story behind the establishment of Birdi?
The Birdi team is made up of veterans from across healthcare who are all too familiar with the challenges that most home delivery services create for consumers. So, we came together to make it better. We began by transitioning Novixus, a ten-year-old home delivery pharmacy, into Birdi: a modern, user-friendly, service that offers superior experience and affordable, convenient options for consumers. We took that one step further with the launch of the Birdi Price—which allows consumers without insurance or whose medication is not covered to save up to 80% on their prescription, compared to most retail cash prices. We are also working on a variety of other initiatives that will enhance the consumer experience.
Why does the prescription home delivery market need to change?
In a home-delivery economy in which people buy everything from groceries to furniture online, most people still pick up their prescriptions at the retail pharmacy. Why is this? We think it’s for three reasons. First, many people have found the digital pharmacy experience up until now to be cumbersome and unfriendly. Second, people want to be able to speak with a pharmacist about their conditions and medications. And third, people want their medications quickly and they aren’t keen on paying for shipping.
At Birdi, we’ve given a lot of thought to—and made significant progress in—addressing each of these factors. For example, our users can call and talk to one of our on-staff pharmacists should they have any questions about their medications, no trip to the pharmacy required.
How has Birdi managed to “do away with long lines, lower drug prices, and make Rx transfers easy”?
We’ve worked on removing each of the points of friction in the digital pharmacy experience today. We’ve made it easier to navigate, provide personalized support, and offer free standard shipping, along with options to expedite delivery. You would be surprised how many mail order pharmacies charge for delivery.
Because our predecessor company, Novixus, has been doing this for a while, our team has deep experience and we’ve identified other steps to make the process easier. For example, if you want to transfer a prescription that you are currently having filled at a retail pharmacy, all you need to do is take a picture of the label. We’ve deployed technology that reads the bottle and immediately begins the transfer process for you. Prescribers can also find us in nearly every eRx platform, so physicians can send prescriptions directly to us.
In other words, to do away with the long lines, we reimagined the entire experience.
How does Birdi’s technology make the process of ordering and receiving prescriptions more convenient for individuals and groups?
Unfortunately, almost everyone has forgotten to pick up their medication from the pharmacy one time or another. Sometimes that can have significant consequences. Through our user-friendly website and mobile app, consumers have the power to manage, order, transfer, and receive their medications from wherever they may be. Now, in addition to working directly with consumers, groups can partner with Birdi to serve their members or employees.
How have you been getting the message about Birdi out to potential users?
Candidly, we have been overwhelmed by the response we’ve seen simply from word of mouth. In particular, customers of Novixus, our predecessor company, have been spreading the word. For years, they had an excellent experience, and they have now noticed how much we have improved it further. But we’re also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and will soon be launching a national advertising campaign.
Here is one thing we aren’t planning in the near term: people are bombarded by pharmacy-related ads on TV. Drug companies, discount programs, retailers… everyone is screaming at consumers. We want to take a more thoughtful approach. That’s in large part why we are so enthusiastic about our rapid growth via word of mouth. Buying medications is a very personal thing, and people appreciate hearing from a friend, family member, or from their prescriber about a good experience that they have had. That’s where we are focusing a lot of our energies.
How do you see Birdi evolving over the next few years?
Our development roadmap is organized around three areas: reducing prices, delivering highly personal service, and increasing convenience. All I am able to say right now is that we have bold initiatives in each of these areas and we will be rolling them out in the coming months and years.