Echo – Sustainability Partner – Health and Care Innovation Expo 2019

What is Echo?

Quite simply, we’re a pharmacy that’s committed to making medicine management work for everyone. We’re on a mission to end the misery of the missed dose, and to help our users stay well by getting them their medicine when they need it.

Working with EPS-enabled NHS England GPs, we process our users’ repeat medicine, and deliver it to their door, for free. We offer our users the option of helpful reminders on when to take their medicine and when it’s time to request a new prescription from their GP, helping them to stay on track and to stay well.

Our co-founder, Stephen Bourke, created Echo to solve a problem he faced getting his medication every month. A lifelong patient who lives with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, he wanted to create a solution that matched his lifestyle and helped him stay adherent – and so Echo was born. Stephen is an entrepreneur with a passion for health and technology. An NHS Innovation Fellow, with a strong background rooted in health and technology, Stephen wanted to create a product that was a blend of altruism and design.

How does it work?

  • Users sign up to Echo either on our website or download our app in the NHS app library, App store or Play store.
  • They add the medicine they take and the date of when they’re going to run out.
  • This request gets sent to their GP to approve and then our team of pharmacists process their prescription.
  • We post the medicines to the user using Royal Mail and set reminders for medicines with regular doses.

Health and Care Innovation Expo Sustainability Sponsor 2019

Health and Care Innovation Expo has always been a highlight in our calendar, and after several years of attending, we’re proud to be working with this prestigious event as their first-ever Sustainability Sponsor. Continuing our mission to be kind to the environment, we’ve supplied the event and its delegates with reusable water bottles and nine water stations, so that visitors can help themselves to a free water bottle and stay hydrated throughout the two days of the event.

We hope that this will drastically cut down on the number of plastic bottles used at the event – and that visitors will continue to use these water bottles in the future. This partnership is one of the many ways that we’re working to improve our carbon footprint. We’re conscious of the impact we have on the environment and we’re constantly striving to improve the impact that we have on our planet.  All of our boxes are made using 100% fully recycled, unbleached board and can be reused or recycled afterwards – we’ve even had some repurposed as cat boxes!

When we need to use protective packaging to protect medication in transit, we use cellulose packaging ‘peanuts’, which dissolve in water and are fully biodegradable. Using Royal Mail for over 99% of our deliveries means that we’re piggy-backing on an existing delivery network without the need for extra van miles – the post rounds happen anyway! We hope that by making these adjustments we can make a positive difference to our patients, and the environment.

Echo and adherence

We know that adherence rates on average are only about 50% across all medication (WHO, 2003) and this is something that we’re passionate about improving. Our initial internal research has shown that people who use our service are more likely to stay on track when managing their medication, which is something we keen to explore further.

Many of us involved from the start, including myself, take repeat medication for long term conditions, so we’re also a patient-led service with a focus on offering users a service that suits their lifestyle.

As Chief Pharmacist of Echo, I’ve worked in community pharmacy for 23 years and I’m committed to providing the same level of care to our patients that they experience in a high street pharmacy. There are several reasons that our users choose to use Echo, as well as the convenience option of using a pharmacy that comes to them  – many can’t make it to their own pharmacy as a result of mobility or distance issues, for some their conditions make it difficult to visit the pharmacy in person. Getting our users their medication is the first step in helping people towards adherence keeping them adherent. This also helps to cut down on medication wastage, a factor that costs the NHS at the very least an estimated £300m each year.

More people taking their medication correctly will contribute to a reduction in avoidable healthcare needs if their conditions are better managed. If we all cut down on avoidable use of the NHS then we can all play a part in reducing the impact of running an organisation of its size and complexity. The NHS accounts for more CO2 emissions than planes taking off from Heathrow, and much of that is down to pharmaceuticals (source: Kings Fund paper Sustainable health and social care ).

Avoiding waste also reduces the risk of unused medication ending up polluting our rivers and waterways, click here for helpful information on how to safely dispose of unused medication.

We’re passionate about adherence, supporting our NHS and getting medicine to patients to help them stay well.

If you’ve any questions or queries, or just want to join the conversation please get in touch on, or follow us on Twitter.

We hope to see you at the event, we’ll be in the AHSN Network Innovation Exchange area, please pop by and say hi.

Alistair Murray, Chief Pharmacist at Echo, is a seasoned healthcare professional with over 20 years’ experience with community and digital pharmacy, third-level education and the NHS. He completed his pharmacy training at Boots and spent 15 years as a pharmacist working in community pharmacies and GP surgeries before joining the founding team of Echo in 2015. He is an honorary lecturer at UCL and the University of Nottingham, the latter where he received his masters in pharmacy.