News | June 2020

Diabetes News of Note: Pharmacy Apps in Diabetes

Walmart, the largest retailer in the USA and globally, has acquired CareZone, an app-based company that helps coordinate the delivery of medications. CareZone claims 3.6 million users, for which it provides mail-order drug delivery, managed through a smartphone app. From a diabetes perspective, this is news worth noting, we think. Here’s why: 

Pharmacy apps are popular and helpful for people with diabetes. About 1 in 5 panel members with type 2 diabetes use a pharmacy app at least once a week. Moreover, 50% of those pharmacy app users with type 2 rate their pharmacy app as ‘very important’ to their diabetes management. This should not come as a big surprise: people with type 2 in the dQ&A Panel take an average of 10 pills per day, and many are also taking insulin. That’s a lot to manage and keep track of.

COVID-19 has tilted the playing field further towards home delivery. In our tracking surveys looking at the impact of the pandemic on the diabetes community, 8% of respondents said they had switched from retail to home delivery. Before COVID-19, retail and mail order were neck-and-neck in terms of share of privately insured patients in our panel, at 33% and 31% respectively, with supermarkets/discount stores in a distant third at 17%. So an 8% switch is significant.

Mail order pharmacy for diabetes needs an upgrade. Net Promoter Scores from the dQ&A Panel tell a sorry tale when it comes to mail order pharmacies. The category as a whole (dominated by Express Scripts) has a Net Promoter Score of only 11. In other words, the share of patients willing to recommend their mail-order pharmacy to another person with diabetes barely exceeds the share who would steer people elsewhere. By contrast, supermarket pharmacies, a category dominated by Walmart, has a much healthier NPS of 48. Walmart’s Sam’s Club subsidiary actually tops our NPS rankings at 74, in a tie with Costco and Publix.

Remote care is on the rise. When we asked dQ&A Panel members who had experienced a telemedicine appointment with their endocrinologist about their post-lockdown preferences, only 29% said they wanted to return to in-person visits only. Technology that helps with medication management, especially if it can share data with electronic health records alongside blood glucose data, could add value in this new environment.

If you need to better understand the diabetes pharmacy experience, or anything else that happens outside the doctor’s office, contact us at info@d-qa.com

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