Virtual practice has become a necessity in the COVID era, and telemedicine will likely continue to expand even after the pandemic wanes.
For practitioners of holistic and functional medicine, the dispensing of supplements and other products is a vital component of both in-person and virtual practice. But managing dispensaries whether online or in-clinic, can be tedious and time-consuming.
Fullscript, one of the world’s leaders in online dispensing and product distribution, is working to simplify the process.
With the launch in October of its new comprehensive platform, Fullscript is making it possible for clinicians to manage their direct-to-patient online dispensaries and their in-clinic product procurement “all from the same account, in the same browser tab,” says Bruce Smith, Fullscript’s senior manager of public relations.
The new platform represents a complete integration of the original Fullscript system with Natural Partners’ distribution and dispensing capabilities. The two companies merged in 2018, but have maintained separate dispensing platforms and distinct branding.
The new platform is part of a broader effort to streamline, simplify, and optimize the systems, so they best support practitioners and their patients.
“We have a lot of practitioners who like virtual dispensing. It is simple for patients, there’s no inventory to manage, nothing goes out of stock or out of date,” says Smith. At the same time, many clinicians continue to maintain in-clinic dispensaries, even in the wake of COVID.
The new platform provides an easy way to administer both.
“There are lots of technologies and apps out there (to support virtual practice),” Smith told Holistic Primary Care. But managing them can be problematic. Our aim was to design something where you can do everything via one account.” The platform is built around the Fullscript – Natural Partners catalog of over 300 practitioner-facing supplement brands.
He added that, “This is the most significant upgrade we’ve done on the Fullscript side.” The company launched the new platform after several months of beta-testing with hundreds of practitioners and their patients.
Comprehensive Practice Support
The new platform is designed to be much more than simply an online dispensary; it is a comprehensive practice support system that facilitates ongoing communication between practitioners and patients, Smith explained. This can increase patient adherence to treatment suggestions, potentially improving clinical outcomes.
It can be integrated with electronic health record systems, and offers a number of “one-to-many” care tools. Practitioners can also use it to disseminate automated wellness-oriented self-care content to patients.
System users get access to the Fullscript Knowledge Center , which compiles scientific content and commentary from leading holistic, functional, and integrative medicine practitioners. There’s also a feature called Shareable Wellness Protocols, that enables practitioners to share specific treatment protocols, product instructions, and support messages to their entire patient database.
Fullscript has a fully-dedicated in-house support team to help practitioners implement and trouble-shoot the new system, which was developed with input from the company’s medical advisory board: Tieraona Low Dog, MD; Jeffrey Bland, PhD; Joseph Pizzorno, ND; Robin Berzin, MD; Cheng Ruan, MD; and Jeffrey Gladd, MD.
Founded in 2012, in Ottawa, Fullscript has was already experiencing rapid growth when the company merged with Natural Partners in 2018. The alliance brought together Fullscript’s technological strengths with NP’s distribution capacity and its long legacy as one of the mainstay distribution channels in the holistic and naturopathic world.
Since the COVID pandemic hit the US, Fullscript Natural Partners has experienced 20% to 30% growth in the number of new practitioners signing up each month, says Alex Keller, ND, Fullscript’s medical director, in a webinar hosted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition last July. The strongest growth has been among medical doctors and chiropractors.
Poised for Rapid Growth
That surge is strongly linked to the sudden embrace of telemedicine that has happened in the wake of COVID. “Prior to COVID only about 5% of our practitioners worked completely virtually,” Keller said reflecting on data from a survey of 500 Fullscript practitioners. “Now, 60% are exclusively working virtually.”
Fullscript currently has 75,000 registered practitioner accounts, and now serves close to 1.75 million patient accounts.
For the time being, the merged companies will maintain both the Fullscript and the Natural Partners brand identities, though they will both operate via the unified platform.
Eventually, though, the company will sunset the Natural Partners brand. “There’s no firm timeline yet on when that will be,” says Smith. “When the time does come we’ll give Natural Partners customers all the personalized support they need to use the improved experience on Fullscript.”