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Propelling public health forward with DrugSmart’s telehealth program


DrugSmart, an independent pharmacy coalition in Canada founded over 40 years ago, launched their Virtual Clinic program in 2020 with OnCall’s solution. Powered by OnCall, DrugSmart’s Virtual Clinic enables patients to meet with a pharmacist or physician online any day of the week through video conference or instant messaging. Since launch, DrugSmart has scheduled over 2000 appointments through their online booking system, and completed over 1300 pharmacist and physician appointments virtually.

In February 2021, Ontario began leveraging local pharmacies to help inoculate Ontarians against COVID-19. Patients in specific communities could check online if their local pharmacies were offering vaccinations, and schedule a vaccination appointment. However, it wasn’t clear which pharmacies were offering vaccinations or how to schedule an appointment, and many people turned to social media for information. By the time a pharmacy was located and a call was made, most appointments were taken and vaccines were no longer available.

Turning a challenge into a community solution

DrugSmart had applied to become a vaccination location and were approved and supplied with vaccines on the same day. In order to ensure no vaccines went to waste, they decided to quickly leverage their existing Virtual Clinic solution to help patients easily find and schedule vaccine appointments online at their local DrugSmart pharmacy. Erin Anderson, DrugSmart’s Senior Manager, Marketing and Business Development, asked OnCall to help with this expansion, and within 5 days DrugSmart began offering vaccine booking through their online platform. DrugSmart’s Virtual Clinic is branded using DrugSmart’s colours, logo, and imagery, to ensure consistency with the DrugSmart brand and experience for patients. OnCall used DrugSmart’s existing program and added a separate division for vaccine bookings, with automations like branded vaccine appointment reminders for patients, explainer documentation, and follow up emails showcasing the DrugSmart logo to ensure patients feel supported after their vaccination.”

Improving access to critical healthcare services

After patients received their first dose of the vaccine at DrugSmart, they were able to easily schedule their second vaccine using DrugSmart’s online booking portal. DrugSmart used a QR code system developed by OnCall so patients could scan their pharmacy’s code to be immediately directed to an online booking page. This booking page only showed appointments available 4 months into the future, and as appointments were taken, additional appointments opened for patients to schedule their second vaccine. Patients reported to Erin that the DrugSmart booking portal was convenient, helpful, and easy to use. After weeks of uncertainty, DrugSmart made patients feel supported and at ease.

DrugSmart helped propel a once-in-a-lifetime public health initiative– through COVID vaccinations– forward. With the rapid expansion of their online booking system and Virtual Clinic, they were able to reach more patients and scale their services across municipalities to better serve patients. As vaccines are approved for more age groups and people, DrugSmart will look to OnCall for assistance in bolstering their Virtual Clinic and vaccine booking portal for more patients in more communities, widening DrugSmart’s reach and growing their clinics.