On 2 April 2017, Uplift opened the first pharmacy in Pune under its ‘ALL BE WELL’ brand. In India, buying over the counter medicines form most out of pocket expenditure on health care. In urban areas, about 68% of the total out of pocket expenditure on healthcare was on medicines. To reduce this out of pocket expenditure and provide genuine medicines to its members, Uplift pharmacy offers medicines on discounts to its members.
Since the pharmacy is in Pune and Uplift members are in Mumbai – the entire process takes 4-5 days. Therefore, Uplift is targeting members with lifestyle diseases such as blood sugar and hypertension who need a monthly supply of medicines. For other illnesses, members are directed to pharmacies in the network who also provide some discounts.
Over the course of four months, Uplift has devised a five-step process to effectively deliver medicines:
Step 1 Collection of medicines request from members: Members have multiple options to submit medicine requests – they can either submit the request along with the prescription to the Uplift doctor at the community clinic, field staff during her home visits, staff of the partner organization or drop it in the medicine box placed at partner organization offices.
Step 2 Placing the medicine request: Uplift has created an internal Whatsapp group for medicine requests which includes the pharmacist. The staff or doctors take a photograph of the prescription and post it on the group along with the member Id number.
Step 3 Call to the member from the pharmacy: The pharmacist calls the member – confirms the order and the bill amount to the member. In case the member is not able to afford the medicine (despite the discount), the pharmacist in consultation with the doctors at Uplift provide the member with a good generic medicine substitute. Generic medicines are anywhere between 30-80% cheaper than branded medicines
Step 4 Supply of medicine to Mumbai office: The pharmacy supplies the medicines to Uplift’s Mumbai office through a courier service. This is collected by the doctor or the field staff.
Step 5 Delivery of medicine: The field staff calls the member and coordinates the delivery time and place. Members can collect their medicines from the community clinic or at times the field staff also makes home visits to deliver the medicine.
“Right now, our focus is on the dual challenges of increasing the customer base by encouraging more members to buy medicines from the Uplift pharmacy and at the same time reduce the delivery time for medicines to members in Mumbai. Our mobile application that will be launched soon will enable member to order their medicines directly sitting at home thus reducing the transaction time.
While the slum dwellers hardly get any discounts on medicine we see our pharmacy playing a key role in reducing out of pocket expenditure and providing quality medicines to our members.” Nandini KS, Operations Head, Uplift.
About the Project
Through ICMIF’s 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy, Uplift aims to bring health mutual aid solutions to an additional half a million low-income people in Mumbai and Pune over the next five years. The project was launched in August 2016 and is supported by ICMIF members, The Co-operators (Canada), Länsförsäkringar (Sweden) and the Achmea Foundation (The Netherlands).