Echo launches NHS repeat prescription app

Close up view of young woman holding ginseng vitamins and minerals pills in hand with capsule bottle on table. High angle view

An app allowing NHS patients to re-order their prescription medications to their homes for free has been launched.

The app has been launched by private company  Echo, which is backed by a recent £1.8 million seed funding round led by LocalGlobe.

The app allows users to log their medications via barcode scanning which, along with entering details of their GP, means medications can be ordered directly from the app when they are running low. Once approved by the GP, the medications are delivered directly to the user’s home.

Echo also reminds users when they should take their medication or re-order by “reading” doctors’ directions through natural language processing, converting it into reminders.

“There are too many barriers to obtaining a repeat prescription, from having to take time off work to attend a GP appointment, to the pharmacy not having enough medication in stock,” said Stephen Bourke, former Lloyds Pharmacy executive and co-founder of Echo. “Echo brings the whole process to your smartphone, with delivery to your door.”

According to Echo’s own research, a fifth of full-time workers run out of their medication due to hectic lifestyles, with parents the most likely to run out of medication. Of those surveyed by the company, 27% admitted to booking an emergency GP appointment and 7% to visiting A&E just to obtain a repeat prescription, all of which leads to millions of pounds of waste for the health system.

“This research confirms what we suspected and is why we started Echo,” said Dr Sai Lakshmi, chief executive of Echo and a former Apple executive. “Half of all under 65s now take a repeat prescription but the pressures of juggling kids and careers means many are not taking their medication properly. This is a huge drain on the NHS.”

Many startups are attempting to solve  inefficiencies in the NHS via the smartphone, owned by around 80% of the UK’s adult population.  In September, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed the NHS’ intentions to exploit this with the soon-to-be-relaunched NHS apps library.

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Marco Ricci