RxWiki: Helping Small Pharmacies Compete

RxWiki is a Healthcare Startup That is Making it Easier for Independent Pharmacists to Connect with Patients

(Source: Dell) The online platform RxWiki is transforming the way small-town pharmacists connect with patients, giving them a foothold in the marketplace against corporations like CVS.

RxWiki takes a multifaceted approach. For one, the Austin, Texas-based company establishes pharmacists’ credibility through social media accounts they set up and update with health news.

Patients can ask questions to RxWiki’s network of pharmacists, many of whom respond within 24 hours. Patients can also manage their prescriptions and access a medical encyclopedia through the RxWiki mobile app.

Well-known corporations like CVS and Walgreens have vast resources to maintain their websites, social media accounts and mobile apps.

Such efforts are worth it as patients who are digitally engaged spend six times more money than patients who only interact with healthcare professionals in stores, according to RxWiki. This puts mom-and-pop pharmacists who don’t have an online presence at a significant competitive disadvantage.

“We’re enabling the little guys to compete with the big guys,” said Donald Hackett, CEO of Patient Conversation Media, Inc., which owns RxWiki.

Expanding Pharmacies' Reach

In just six months with RxWiki, Tarrytown Pharmacy in Austin increased its Facebook following from 25 to 1,000. More than 550 patients downloaded the mobile app, and 70 percent of prescription refills came from mobile app users.

It is this kind of success that garnered recognition from Intel and Dell. RxWiki was a finalist in the Tech Innovation Day Series earlier this month, a competition for healthcare startups for a mentorship opportunity.

“This website appears to be an effective platform for patients to ask questions of pharmacists, and for those pharmacists who have subscribed to it, to be able to provide an additional service to their patient,” said Evelyn R. Hermes-DeSantis, a professor of pharmacy at Rutgers University.

Building Consumer Trust

Wikipedia is the most popular general reference site on the Internet and a popular source of healthcare information, despite that many articles are error-ridden; a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality showed most Wikipedia articles for the 10 costliest medical conditions in the United States contain errors.

In contrast, RxWiki has a rigorous peer-review process; every article is reviewed by at least two pharmacists. Responses to patient questions are also reviewed before they are published. Lawson said this scrutiny lends credibility to the articles.

“Our special sauce is the perpetual peer review,” Hackett said.

Articles on the RxWiki website, each of which contain short video clips, include articles such as “Thousands Harmed by Pool Chemicals” and “Cereal May Not Be the Healthiest Start to Your Day.” Each piece is written in a straight-forward way that is meant for easy consumption.

Unlike some other medical websites, RxWiki articles carry the bylines and head shots of the experts who wrote them, keeping authors accountable.

“It’s not just RxWiki whose reputation is at stake. It’s the pharmacist’s personal brand that’s at risk if information is inaccurate,” Hackett added.

The Future of RxWiki

The 4-year-old company currently works with 2,700 pharmacies. RxWiki.com attracts 3 million unique viewers per month, and the brand has more than one million social media followers.

“We intend to be the number one medication publisher worldwide,” he said. “We have about 15 percent of the market share today and we’ll be at 50 percent this time next year. We’re adding 15 pharmacies a day, and in one year, our network will have 10,000 stores.”

Last Updated: May 28, 2014