Health

Meet Echo: Taking the pain out of prescriptions

By Oliver Smith 10 August 2017
Stephen Bourke (left) and Sai Lashmi, founders of Echo.
Summary

The free smartphone app banishing your repeat visits to the pharmacy.

Did you know a whopping half of us don’t stick to medications that we’re prescribed?

Whether down to laziness, forgetfulness or simply a lack of understanding as to why we’re taking something, many of us just give up taking the drugs doctors give us.

And that’s a major issue for the NHS and public health in general.

Not only is it a waste of time for doctors prescribing drugs that aren’t taken, but the long-term result is that people get sick and end up in hospital.

The pain of prescriptions

As a person who grew up with asthma and lives with anxiety, Stephen Bourke understands the pain of prescriptions.

“I would have to go and present myself in-person at my surgery, ask for a repeat prescription, then come back in a few days to collect it, take that prescription to a pharmacy where hopefully they’d have my meds in stock.”

Rinse and repeat every two months.

“There’s a reason why doctors prescribe medication, and it’s not for their own enjoyment, but at the same time it’s tedious for the consumer.”

That’s why he and his co-founder Sai Lakshmi started Echo, to solve the prescription crisis.

Meet Echo

Echo is simple; it’s essentially a digital pharmacy.

You download the smartphone app, pick your GP, register your meds, and order away.

Prescriptions are delivered to your door when you need them, and best of all, Echo is entirely free (Bourke and co make their money just like a regular pharmacy, from the NHS).

Bourke says he created the service to appeal to busy professionals with one or two prescriptions, but it’s actually chronic patients who are swarming to it in their droves.

He’s seen thousands of patients living with lifelong conditions – like cystic fibrosis, diabetes or those who are deaf or blind – sign up, some of whom require up to 30 different medications on repeat prescription.

Praised by patients

With some 45,000 downloads on the App Store, Echo enjoys a solid 4.5-star rating and is clearly loved by its users.

One wrote:

“We live on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, work full-time and have a disabled child. Being able to get my repeats ordered on the app, reminders to take my medication and when to order it, and then to come home and it be waiting for me has transformed what was a complex task requiring a lot of coordination into something easy.”

A sentiment echo’d by hundreds of other reviews.

“The key thing that all of our patients have in common is that they are just getting on with their lives,” says Bourke.

“They don’t identify with this term patient. They just take these meds, and now they just want to get on and do something else.”

Today Echo covers 91% of NHS England GPs, 99% of medications and can deliver across 100% of the country.

So the next time the doctor gives you a repeat prescription, there’s really no reason why you can’t just get on with your life.