View from the Top

Using Electronic Platforms to Bring Service to New Level

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:30

Q: Grupo RFP launched a digital platform for the pharmaceutical sector. How is this platform performing?
A: The platform is now in its trial period. Scotiabank initially authorized it and provided the opportunity. It was built and administered by a company called We Company in a strategic alliance with us. AXA, Santander and Banrural have now joined too. The goal of the platform is to make health services more efficient by allowing the patient electronic access to all kinds of services. The platform will include insurance agencies, diagnostic laboratories, doctors and a network of pharmacies. We have a project mounted on the platform called AIRE (Smart Electronic Recipe Management), which manages all these players in relation to our patient. As we advance, we will get more and more players involved. At least in the private sector, the whole country will be integrated. This will drastically reduce the time between providing a diagnosis and handing the medication to the patient. This will have a positive impact on both the quality and the costs of the service for the client.
Q: How is Grupo RFP working to increase its attractiveness in terms of electronic sales and delivery of medicines?
A: From a regulatory point of view, there are still certain products that are controlled or specialized to such a degree that they need to be administered by a person and cannot be bought on the internet. If you can receive the required attention by a doctor through the cloud and get an electronic recipe, then even these medications can be delivered to your house directly. The authorities will ultimately have to give permission for this. To increase our own attractiveness, we want to provide a bigger service than just medicine delivery. It is important that we help patients with orientation, providing them with the right information through the different phases of their treatment. This is particularly relevant when it comes to chronic diseases. It is also something which we continue to focus on at our pharmacies.
Q: How is Grupo RFP helping to increase access to healthcare and medicine across the country?
A: The majority of medication is still acquired through consultations with doctors and health professionals. Many people in Mexico do not have access to banking services. We should be offering alternative payment methods because not everything should be done with bank cards or cash. We are launching a project soon where we will introduce a card that is not tied to a bank and offers credit to clients to buy medication. The service will be very simple. Patients will not have to wait for a bill or wonder what these bills mean. You will be able to have insight into your credit, and either have a debit or credit card model. People will need to pay off the credit after a week, but they will not have to consult banking services. This will help people get more access.  
Q: What are Grupo RFP’s top goals for 2019?
A: This year, we are looking to employ new resources to regain organic growth. In terms of openings, we are not finished with the consolidation processes we pursued last year and we hope to open new locations across the country in 2019. We will be doing this in areas where we already operate and not in new areas. These areas are Bajio, Colima, Michoacan, San Luis Potosi, the metropolitan area of Mexico City, Puebla, Veracruz, Tabasco and Chiapas. We are also working toward incorporating new networks. At the moment, small groups of pharmacies around the country are suffering from competition with larger groups. We can work together to provide the benefits of economies of scale, and achieve higher rentability. Ultimately, a certain type of acquisition will have to happen. It is important for us to maintain a regional identity for these pharmacies. The back-office operations are standardized for all pharmacies but the front-office image should remain specific to the region. We are also appealing to a sense of nostalgia and the relationship people have with their pharmacy. They are going to the pharmacy where their parents and grandparents went, and where their kids will go in the future.