Online pharmacy purchase habits: perspectives from Malaysia
- At: PPR SIG 2021 (2021)
- Type: Digital
- By: WONG, Wei Jin (Monash University Malaysia, Malaysia)
- Co-author(s): Wong WJ(1), Chuang VTG(2), Lau JLS (1)1 School of Pharmacy, Monash University Malaysia. Jalan Lagoon Selatan, Bandar Sunway 47500, Selangor, Malaysia2 Discipline of Pharmacy, Curtin Medical School, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University. Hayman Road, Bentley 6102, Perth, Western Australia.
The fourth industrial revolution has seen the growth of e-commerce in retail business including community pharmacies. Together with that, the ongoing global pandemic of Covid-19 has also accelerated this. Widespread disruptions at various healthcare services like community pharmacies are expected, with studies already reporting varying impacts on medication access and provision of counselling and patient education.
To investigate the current status of online purchase of pharmacy items, the awareness of the safety of medication purchased online, and consumers\’ preferences.
A cross-sectional study with an online questionnaire was used. The questionnaire was disseminated via Qualtrics, promoted in a community health talk, and shared via snowballing. Data was collected over three months (March to May 2021). In addition to demographics information, the questionnaire also asked about the history and habits of purchasing items online from pharmacies, awareness of medication stability and safety and expectations of pharmaceutical services if buying things online. Ethics approval from Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee obtained (project ID: 27227).
There were 271 fully completed questionnaires. The majority of respondents were 19-24 years old, employed, non-health professionals, and no multiple comorbidities. Of this, 26% reported purchasing pharmacy items (prescription and non-prescription items) before. Overall, 63% of respondents reported not buying pharmacy items online because they were primarily concerned about the quality of medicines. Those who bought pharmacy items online via third party local e-commerce providers did not verify whether the seller was from a registered pharmacy. Respondents also chose real-time chat for advice and recommendations, proper delivery and linkage to clinics or hospitals for prescription sharing as some of the preferred professional services that an online pharmacy can provide.
This study provides a glimpse of current consumer’s purchasing habits and inform future considerations for virtual professional services in community pharmacies with increased utilisation of technology in healthcare.