Celebrating 35 years of home delivery for Express Scripts® Pharmacy

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at work in one of Express Scripts® Pharmacy’s fulfillment locations.

Shopping online and having items delivered to your home has become a way of life for so many of us. But let’s take a trip back to the days before smartphones and the internet.

The year is 1986. A health maintenance organization (HMO) and a regional drugstore chain join forces to start a mail-service pharmacy — the first of its kind. In a small cinder-block building in St. Louis, five employees (the only ones at the time) are hard at work. The first prescription orders — all 11 of them — arrive in the mail on February 3, 1987. History has been made.

Today you know this pharmacy as Express Scripts® Pharmacy. From humble beginnings, we’ve grown to serve millions of customers and dispense hundreds of thousands of prescriptions each day with a 99.99% accuracy rate. Our 1,000+ pharmacists have been with our pharmacy for 15 years on average, bringing their dedication and clinical focus to every patient they support.

Technology has made our pharmacy safer and more efficient over time

Pat Marks started with Express Scripts® Pharmacy as an intern in 1994, while he was still in pharmacy school. After he graduated, he became a staff pharmacist and worked his way up at the company. He currently serves as the Director of Pharmacy Practice for the Troy, N.Y., pharmacy site.

Over his nearly three decades with the pharmacy, he has seen many changes. The biggest one, he said, is the technology — and he specifically mentioned electronic prescribing or e-prescribing as having the greatest impact. With e-prescribing, our pharmacy receives the prescription directly from the prescriber — the patient doesn’t have to share it. And there’s no having to decipher a prescriber’s handwritten notes.

Marks also remembers manually routing paper prescriptions in baskets and envelopes, which meant there was always a chance they could get lost or mixed up.

“Now we get medications to patients much quicker, safer, and more accurately,” Marks said. “And we just keep improving.”

Marks said Express Scripts® Pharmacy is constantly fine-tuning systems and review processes to catch potential medication errors and interactions.

Freeing up time for pharmacists to focus on patient care

In the early days, Express Scripts® Pharmacy employees filled prescriptions by hand. They had a “high-tech” conveyor belt, but it was only turned on for prospect tours because it was loud and there weren’t enough orders to warrant using it.

Pharmacy employees packing medications during the early days of Express Scripts.
Pharmacy employees packing medications during the early days of Express Scripts.

Today, nearly all medications are dispensed through automation in one of our four fulfillment pharmacies, under the supervision of our pharmacists. It’s a distraction-free work environment where pharmacists focus on the task on hand.

“Distractions make it difficult to focus on prescriptions,” Marks said. “Our pharmacists aren’t busy answering phones if they’re verifying a prescription. They can really focus on the task they’re assigned to.”

This focused approach carries over to our pharmacists who work directly with patients. Conversations are private and without the distractions of a retail setting, so patients get their undivided attention.

Focusing on specific disease states

Another big change that happened in the last 15 years at Express Scripts® Pharmacy has been the introduction of Therapeutic Resource Centers (TRC), which allow specially trained pharmacists to care for patients with chronic and complex long-term conditions.

Our TRC pharmacists have initial and annual training to support patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, immunology/HIV, cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions, neuroscience and behavioral health, and women’s health. They counsel patients on the safe and effective use of their medication and other ways to manage their condition.

Edward Dannemiller, a registered pharmacist who has been part of the Cardiovascular Therapeutic Resource Center since it began, said this pharmacy model has led to “more individualized and higher quality patient care.”

Evolving to meet the needs of the future

Express Scripts® Pharmacy led the way with the first home delivery of prescriptions 35 years ago.

“Since then, we have been innovating and adapting to meet the pharmacy needs of our patients,” said Express Scripts® Pharmacy President Wendy Barnes. “Patient care is our top priority and we’re committed to providing the highest quality patient care — now and in the future.

To learn more about how pharmacy care will change over the next decade — and how Express Scripts® Pharmacy is prepared for what’s next — read this new report.

Posted date: February 1, 2022


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