Many people have used their time at home to consider their health and well-being. Some have taken up exercise, yoga or getting a dog. Others have decided to find out more about their health in order to make healthier choices and use online portals like 23andMe (saliva test), Thriva (blood test) or Pharmacy2u (blood or urine test) to point them in the right direction.
With the restrictions, due to COVID, likely to be lifted soon, people will be able to get out and will start to look at more face to face type health checks and might consider the traditional private health screening services offered by Bupa or Nuffield. However, these services don’t come cheap and the pandemic has created the opportunity for affordable healthcare to be offered via the high street.
Whether a standalone clinic or one within a supermarket or pharmacy the ability to get tested, either generally or for COVID related symptoms, is becoming easier.
Recognising this opportunity several of the best-known high street pharmacies have recently started offering health checks and reasonably priced COVID testing services. In-store antigen or PCR tests are readily available, and at-home kits can be easily purchased in-store or ordered online.
Partnerships between high street pharmacies and healthcare providers are not entirely new. A number of the leading high street pharmacies already offer health clinics or act as health hubs for certain NHS services, offering blood test services, vaccinations, screening services, and management of a number of diseases or health conditions.
High street pharmacies are an extremely important resource in diverting patients away from GPs or hospitals, taking pressure away from the already overstretched NHS resources made worse as a result of the COVID pandemic as the NHS tries to catch up on non-urgent diagnoses and treatments. Pharmacies are increasingly pushed as an important resource, as the first port-of -call for diagnosis and treatment of many minor (or chronic) conditions. In addition, walk-in clinics will also take some of the burden off the NHS and become more popular in the long run.
As we emerge from the pandemic, it is reasonable to assume that high street pharmacies, walk-in clinics and online portals will benefit from the increased public awareness of highly convenient in-store or online testing and healthcare services.
Will this lead to a long term general healthier lifestyle for many or will it be forgotten once life gets back to normal?