This purpose of this study was to gain information about what features patients look for in a mobile application for pharmacy services provided by Giant Eagle pharmacies. Giant Eagle has 218 locations across western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Indiana. At the time of the study, the company had a mobile app for grocery service and a pharmacy services app in development that had not yet been launched. Services provided by Giant Eagle pharmacists include providing medication therapy management (MTM), immunizations, counseling on specialty medications and diabetes self-management.
Participant interviews for the study took place at 5 different Giant Eagle pharmacies in Pittsburgh, PA. Eligible participants included patients older than 35 years old who use and own a smartphone on a daily basis. They also had to have received a prescription from the pharmacy on a monthly basis to be eligible. Participants were recruited to the study at the pharmacy counter when they dropped off or picked up prescriptions. Before the interview about preferred features in a mobile app, demographic information was collected. A total of 24 interviews were conducted with participants at the different locations. All participants interviewed stated a need for an app to be “user friendly,” meaning an app that requires few steps to reach a certain function. There were a few different themes for an app that participants desired. The first theme being an app meant to foster an improved and convenient pharmacy experience. The second theme described features designed to help patients with self-management of their medications. The third theme involves features to increase timely and personalized access to pharmacists.
This study showed that patients desire more information from a mobile app for convenience and ease of access. This could have a positive impact on the workflow for pharmacists. An app that provides patients with comprehensive services, medication lists, and drug and disease state information could reduce the frequency of patient calls for simple requests. By reducing the number of phone calls for simple requests such as drug identification questions or checking on checking if an order is ready, pharmacists would have more time to focus on patient care services like MTM. Patients expressed that they want an app that makes it easy to communicate to a pharmacists via instant messaging, video chat, or email. This could improve patient outcomes, as it has been demonstrated before that outcomes improve when pharmacists interact directly with patients. Overall, the study showed that patient desires should be considered when creating a mobile pharmacy app. This study could be helpful for community pharmacies across the country when they design mobile applications.