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Right ePharmacy looks to expand smart lockers initiative

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A patient punches in a PIN code at a Collect & Go smart locker.
A patient punches in a PIN code at a Collect & Go smart locker.

Since Right ePharmacy first launched its electronic Collect & Go medicine collection solution in 2020, the health tech firm says 336 000 prescriptions have been collected from its 64 sites in Gauteng, Free State and Mpumalanga.

Right ePharmacy is an IP tech innovation firm owned by health NGO Right to Care. It seeks to innovate products and services, to ensure the public healthcare system is able to get medicine to more patients, at convenient times, thereby relieving the burden on pharmacists and nurses across Africa.

The smart Collect & Go lockers were introduced across the three provinces to allow patients to collect their chronic medications from a conveniently-located smart locker site without going into a clinic or hospital.

The smart lockers, located near public health facilities and shopping centres, are interfaced with tracking software, which is managed via a live dashboard which automates an SMS reminder for patients to collect their medicine.

The free service is run in partnership with the National Department of Health and health NGO Anova,supported by USAID and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The ePharmacy says it has loaded nearly 434 000 chronic medicine prescriptions onto the system since inception, and is adding a further 22 sites in Limpopo and Western Cape.

Fanie Hendriksz, MD of Right ePharmacy, explains: “COVID-19 intensified the need for alternative medicine collection points for chronic patients.

“People wanted to avoid facilities without stopping their treatment, and many turned to Collect & Go to collect their chronic meds from a conveniently-located smart locker site without going into a clinic or hospital. By using Collect & Go, close contact with other people is avoided, which is critical for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and HIV who want to avoid COVID-19.

In addition to SA, the citizens of Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana now have access to Collect & Go, with another two Sub-Saharan African countries about to be added, notes Hendriksz.

Patience with a chronic condition can sign up for Collect & Go at their closest health facility. Once registered, they choose a smart locker site that is most convenient. They will then receive an SMS with a one-time PIN on their mobile phone as soon as the medicine is in the locker. At the locker they insert the PIN number to open the locker and collect the medicine parcel.

Tshepiso Moloi, a Collect & Go site agent in Soweto, says: “Collect & Go is helping to end the stigma in our community about chronic illnesses. Patients don’t need to wake up early and stand in a long queue at a clinic for hours just to get their medicine. They can also send someone to collect for them. Collect & Go also decongests busy health facilities.”

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