Digital pharmacy Healthwave removes Medical Card prescription charges.

Digital pharmacy service Healthwave has introduced a zero-cost medical card service that will save Ireland’s 1.5m medical card holders up to €180 annually.

Medical Card holders will not be charged the €1.50 government fee per medication, capped at €180 annually, with Healthwave Digital Pharmacy electing to absorb the cost.

“Our new free Medical Card plan allows patients to remain at home while continuing to get their monthly medications free of charge”

Additionally, they will be able to avail of free Healthwave Digital Pharmacy membership, which includes access to 24/7 pharmacy consultations, free innovative PillPods medication sorting service, zero dispensing fees, and the free delivery of prescriptions nationwide. 

In Ireland over 1.5m people have Medical Card eligibility through the General Medical Services Scheme. In 2019, prescription charges of €85.33m, paid by medical card holders, were recouped by the HSE from pharmacies in Ireland.

Digital innovation

Man standing beside machine.

“Patients eligible for the Medical Cards are often low-income earners while those over 70s are most vulnerable when it comes to Covid,” explained founder and managing director of Healthwave Shane O’Sullivan.

“Our new free Medical Card plan allows patients to remain at home while continuing to get their monthly medications free of charge. Being a digital pharmacy, patients and carers also have access to our clinical team of pharmacists from their phone 7 days a week. We are delighted to be able to offer this service at no cost. The cap of €15 per month might not seem like much to some people but it could impact the grocery or transportation budget of those less well off.”

Healthwave is launching this initiative in response to long-standing calls and recommendations, from healthcare providers in Ireland, for the State to remove prescription fee levies, and in reaction to imminent competitive developments from providers across Europe.

In Healthwave, medical card holders are on an average of 3.5 monthly medications, with those over 70 averaging 6 medications. The PillPods service offered free by Healthwave is ideally suited to those on large numbers of medications and removes the need to sort and remember individual pills for both patients and carers alike.

“Technology and centralised dispensing hubs open up the possibilities for the Government to look at new models delivering care in the home for Irish patients,” O’Sullivan said.

“Healthwave Digital Pharmacy is a successful example of what can be achieved economically and socially through smart technology solutions, operating a centralised pharmacy hub staffed with a clinical pharmacist team, all the while reflecting cost savings in the prices charged to patients.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 17 November, 2020

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