For many underserved and low-income communities, pharmacies are the initial contact with the health system. As such, pharmacies have great potential to reduce death and sickness related to illnesses such as TB, HIV, and non-communicable diseases, as well as to steward appropriate antibiotic dispensing practices. By digitally connecting tens of thousands of pharmacy professionals and their pharmacies, SwipeRx is improving the access, affordability and availability of medicines for patients. SwipeRx’s flagship platform is a mobile app that connects over 170,000 pharmacy professionals from 40,000 pharmacies across 7 countries. One in every three pharmacists in South East Asia is on the platform. SwipeRx works with pharmaceutical companies, distributors, governments and NGOs who use its multi-feature platform for digital education, awareness, research, patient programs and supply chain interventions for pharmacy professionals. SwipeRx is using their network to educate pharmacists in best practices, integrate them better into the health system, reduce the price of drugs, and inform public health researchers and policymakers.
GIF’s initial investment of $2 million in SwipeRx in 2016 was to onboard pharmacists and their pharmacies to join the network and expand geographic coverage. In 2019, GIF invested an additional $1 million in SwipeRx to scale up their supply chain work helping to quadruple the number of purchasing pharmacies in their network. In response to the COVID pandemic, GIF approved a $140,000 grant to support a program for “Increasing COVID-19 Awareness and Reliable Information Dissemination at the Pharmacy” in South East Asia.
SwipeRx has the largest digital pharmacy network in South East Asia connecting one third of all the pharmacists in Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Cambodia. It has become the largest mobile education provider pharmacy professionals in the region educating over 45,000 pharmacy professionals, the largest crowdsourced knowledge base for pharmacy practice with over 70,000 answers generated on the platform, and the largest purchasing network of pharmacies in the region. Beyond this, it has carried out specific public health programs in the areas of Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Family Planning, Antimicrobial Resistance and COVID-19. In implementing these initiatives at the pharmacy level, it has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID, the Gates Foundation, Johns Hopkins and other public sector organizations. For example, for tuberculosis its pharmacy network has been used to better screen and identify presumptive cases of tuberculosis and refer them to health facilities for confirmatory testing. In this first phase work, an alarming 54% of patients that were visited health facilities referred to by its pharmacy network were positive for TB. In yet another example of SwipeRx’s impact, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, over 8,000 pharmacy professionals were rapidly educated on COVID-19 so that they could better protect themselves and the patients they counsel.
Beyond this, SwipeRx has enhanced the supply chain interface between sub-distributors, wholesalers, and pharmacies, increasing the availability of medicines at the pharmacy level and reducing costs by getting medicines cheaper and faster, cost savings that can be passed onto patients. It continues to rapidly scale its digital supply chain across South East Asia.
In 2020, under the COVID 19 Response project, SwipeRx deployed digital surveys to understand the COVID 19 situation in pharmacies, disseminated COVID 19 awareness campaigns, and delivered digital COVID 19 educational modules in the Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia.