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Pharmacies need websites

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The Pharmaceutical Journal Vol 265 No 7106p115
July 22, 2000 Leader

Pharmacies need websites

Pharmacies need to have their own websites. The explosion of internet usage over the past five years means that all pharmacies should now consider a website to be a basic business tool, just like a fax machine or a dispensary computer.
This does not mean that all pharmacies need to dive immediately into the troubled waters of e-commerce and selling medicines over the internet. A basic website can provide potential customers with all the information contained in a practice leaflet but without the restrictions on space. These details can be enhanced with pictures and maps. Further information on specific services offered can be added together with extended background information. Links to other sites of interest could be added.
An associated e-mail address allows customers to send in general inquiries at a time convenient to them. The pharmacist can reply to these as time allows, without the interruptions that telephone calls bring. Furthermore, e-mail means that a dated record of all correspondence is retained - a useful audit resource.
Some of the reasons why pharmacies need to start taking the internet and e-commerce seriously are spelt out in an article in this week's issue by Council member Sultan Dajani (pp132-3). The article makes clear that the internet will have a major impact on pharmacy in the near future. As well as e-commerce, electronic transmission of prescriptions will be a reality soon. The Government recently announced funding for trials of electronic prescription transfer.
It is true to say at present that the main users of small community pharmacies are young mothers and the elderly, neither of whom are noted early adopters of new technology. However, access to the internet will soon be possible through television sets using low-cost set-top boxes rather than expensive personal computers. Elderly people who are used to watching a lot of television may find such devices an attractive way of staying in touch with family and friends, a phenomenon which has already been observed in the United States of America.
Gaining access to the internet and establishing a website need not be expensive. Some of the pharmacy marketing groups and many internet service providers offer low-cost websites with help and advice. A key consideration is choosing a suitable domain name. Once this has been secured it should be widely publicised. Pharmacies should have websites because you never know who might be surfing the internet looking for one.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20002287

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