During the spring, our employees in pharmacies, pharmaceutical logistics and other expert roles have been living and breathing our purpose, Health for life. That has meant, for example, securing medicine deliveries to pharmacies in a historically high peak in demand and finding ways for the risk groups to run pharmacy errands safely.
When the COVID-19 outbreak spread to the Nordics on March, our pharmacies and pharmaceutical logistics were the first to feel the impact. As the epidemic triggered uniquely high rates of medicine purchases from pharmacies, our logistics received 50% higher orders from pharmacies.
To meet the increased demand and secure patient safety, we prioritised pharmaceuticals and other critical products in our deliveries. Our skilled logistics teams worked overtime to secure medicine deliveries, and we had employees from other departments helping with the picking. At the same time, we had a daily dialogue with our customers and authorities about the status of the situation.
New cooperation to secure pharmaceutical supply for Swedish healthcare
Securing medicine and other health product deliveries to the pharmacies and hospital pharmacies in all circumstances is at the core of our business. So far, the medicine availability has not been significantly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and pharmaceutical import has worked normally.
Due to the regulatory stock, we have a supply of critical medicines for three months in Finland. In Sweden, there is no similar system, but Oriola is working together with authorities to secure medicine supply. In April, new collaboration was started with Swedish regions to primarily secure the supply of intensive care products for COVID-19 patients. In May, the collaboration was expanded further to storing certain medicines to a new national stock for the Swedish regions.
Protecting the risk groups
In addition to securing pharmaceutical logistics, we have consistently supported patient safety during the pandemic in our dose-dispensing, patient support and in pharmacies. Our dose-dispensing services means eldercare nurses needn’t distribute medication by hand. Our patient support programmes help patients to receive the support they need safely over the telephone, through digital channels or directly to their homes. Our pharmacy employees in Sweden and in Finland have continued to advise people while ensuring safe encounters.
Our Kronans Apotek pharmacies in Sweden have also innovated solutions to protect the risk groups. In April, we started a new service for the risk groups for ordering pharmacy products by phone and picking up the delivery outside a pharmacy. We have also promoted the opportunity to order medicines and other products from online shop or authorise someone else to pick up one’s medicines from a pharmacy. For example, in March, online shop orders grew by nearly 100% compared to the last year and use of authorisation increased by 100% among customers older than 70 years compared to previous month.
All these actions are a great example of how we are supporting people and our customers in this unprecedent situation. This is our continuous work for Health for life.