Laura’s Pen takes a look at an app that lets you order your NHS prescriptions right to your door
I’ve been using the Echo app for some time now and I thought it was about time I wrote a blog about it.
The Echo prescription app allows UK patients to order their NHS prescriptions from their GP and get them filled and posted straight to their door, all from one app without speaking to a single person.
Now, I need to make it clear, if you’re chronically ill you can probably get a local pharmacy to deliver your drugs to you and some will even order your repeat prescriptions for you automatically.
However, the upside of the Echo app is that you can do everything in one place and, if you have social anxiety like me, you don’t have to actually speak to anyone (Hooray!)
Also, for those who work, with Echo you can set up multiple delivery addresses, so you can get it delivered to your work (it comes in a discreet brown box).
An extra bonus for those both chronically ill and social anxious: you don’t have to ask your pharmacy to deliver to you when you feel overly self conscious about the fact you don’t look sick.
What is the Echo app?
The Echo app was founded by two men who take medication to manage long-term conditions.
They were frustrated because they were working long hours and had to go to their GP every eight weeks to pick up a paper prescription for their repeats.
Now, you can get your prescriptions electronically sent to your nominated pharmacy (which is a system the Echo app uses) but they found there were so many problems with the existing software available to order your prescriptions online, that they made their own app to do what they needed.
It’s completely free to use, although if you have any controlled drugs to be delivered or want signed-for delivery, there is a charge for postage (its free otherwise). I will go into this further down.
You can search for (or scan) your medications, request them from your GP (once you’ve done this once they’ll be saved for you for next time), pay for them, get your prescriptions posted to you by Royal Mail, set up reminders to take your medication and get reminders when you’re running low.
How does it work?
First of all, you will need to put your details into the app, including your GP surgery’s details. They will then send a request to your doctors to set up one of their pharmacies as your nominated one.
When you make your first order, leave a bit of extra time so they can do this as your GP won’t do it instantly.
I find if I make an order on a Monday it is with me on Friday. But a lot of this will be dependent on the speed of your GP.
The pharmacy sends the request to the GP surgery the same day, it takes my doctors two days to get back to them (Echo says to allow four days for this), and then it is sent out in the next post (cut off time is 3pm at my pharmacy) by second class mail.
The only times it has taken longer have been when my doctors have decided to refuse my request for whatever reason, or once because they decided to print out a paper prescription, because, you know, no particular reason.
If there is a delay the pharmacist usually messages me via the app to let me know what is going on (and I am able to reply via the app also) and they seem to be on the ball with contacting my surgery to find out why there is a delay.
The app keeps you up-to-date of the progress of your prescription via app notifications.
The app will ask you if you have a medical exemption when you set it up. You can take a photo of your exemption to get this approved on the system.
I haven’t used a prepayment card, but they say you can use these if you upload your prepayment details when ordering your prescription .
If you don’t have any exemptions you can pay for your prescriptions directly through the app.
The standard delivery option is free and is second class so usually takes 2-3 days to arrive. But if you want your prescription sent by signed-for (and I think this is first-class) then it costs £4.95.
If your drugs normally come in boxes that fit through a letter box, then they will strive send this to you in packaging that will also fit through your letter box.
But if you’re ordering a lot, or big boxes, then make sure you get it send to an address where someone will be in to receive it (you can set up alternative delivery addresses so you can get it delivered to work, for example).
If you don’t, you may end up having to go to a Royal Mail sorting office or organising a redelivery.
It comes in a discreet brown box, so there’s no worries about others knowing what’s in your package.
This is important: if you have any controlled medications you will have to use the signed-for option (£4.95) for these prescriptions. So you may want to check if you have any before you let Echo set up a nominated pharmacy that isn’t actually local to you.
In their FAQs, Echo list the following medications as examples of controlled drugs: opiates (Tramadol), benzodiazepines (Diazepam), and sleeping tablets (Zopiclone).
The app will tell you if your drug is controlled before you finish your request and warn you that you will have to use the signed-for delivery option.
In person prescriptions:
This is the only problem I have with using the Echo app. You go to the doctors, they prescribe you something then and there and they’re slightly confused that your nominated pharmacy is so far away. (I live in London and mine is in London, but it’s not very local)
Hopefully, your doctor will ask you if you want a printed prescription or whether you want it sent to your nominated pharmacy.
If they select the “send electronically to your pharmacy” option without asking you, then it’s a bit of a faff, but actually my Echo pharmacy were excellent at dealing with this.
I rang them (this was before the messaging system) to tell them what had happened, and they just asked me to put an order for the item through the app and they pushed it through to prescription received from GP status as soon as they got it.
So not a huge deal in the end.
There’s two types of reminders on the app. Reminders to take your medication and reminders that you are running low on medication.
I don’t use the reminders about when to take your medication as it only lets you put items you have ordered through them on there. Which means you have to set up reminders for supplements or over the counter drugs elsewhere, and I prefer to do it all in one place.
It also seems to be the only bit of the app that is slightly on the buggy side. For this review, I tried adding some of my medications to the reminder system to test it and it doesn’t actually appear on the reminder diary. But they have just revamped the app so maybe this is something they are working on.
The reminders that you are running low, however, are very useful. This only works with drugs you take the same amount of every day, so they know how much you should have used and when you’re running low.
You can check at any time through the app how many days worth you have left.
This app has actually saved me a lot of hassle. I’ve been using it for roughly a year now, after one of the co-founders emailed me to tell me about the app (I’ve received no financial incentive or anything else, I’ve just used the app, which is free anyway).
They’ve been working on it through that time and are always looking to improve things. I’m at home all day, so having the prescriptions posted to me suits me down-to-the ground and I love the ease of the whole system.
I hope you find it useful too!
Liked this post? Pin the image below or scroll down for more sharing options