USA – CVS Pharmacy is expanding an in-app feature for visually impaired patients, which reads prescription information out loud, to all of its nearly 10,000 U.S. locations.
The solution, called Spoken Rx, was designed in collaboration with the American Council of the Blind.
Patients enrolled in the program can scan the labels on their prescription containers and have their information read aloud to them in either English or Spanish, including the medication’s name and directions for use.
CVS first made the feature available in 1,700 stores in July 2020, with a promise to make it available in all of its pharmacy locations by the end of 2021.
To use the spoken labels, CVS Pharmacy customers must first create a CVS account, download the Spoken Rx smartphone app, and enroll in Spoken Rx. The patient’s future prescription labels will then be Radio-frequency identification- tagged (RFID-tagged).
Enrollment can be completed over the phone or in person at a CVS pharmacy. When a patient holds the prescription bottle four inches away from their smartphone, the app scans the RFID label and reads the information.
All patients who enroll are eligible for the feature at no cost. If the patient does not have a smartphone, CVS can provide a standalone speaker device to read prescription labels.
Spoken Rx supplements the CVS website’s existing braille, audio, and large-print accessible prescription label options. It is one of the most recent features added to the CVS Pharmacy app, which allows patients to easily connect to health resources, refill prescriptions, and schedule appointments for health services such as vaccinations and testing.
The Spoken Rx app only reads CVS Pharmacy prescription labels, and Blanchette says there are no plans to expand the feature to include labels from other pharmacies.
It is the first in-app prescription reader application developed by a national retail pharmacy, according to the drugstore giant.
“We continue to remove barriers to healthcare for all patients, and this in-app technology furthers our commitment by providing patients added flexibility and independence,” said Jared Tancrelle, senior vice president of store operations at CVS Health.
“Our patients are increasingly digitally connected, so digital tools like Spoken Rx are a priority for us as we listen to feedback and adapt our suite of pharmacy services and programs to ensure we’re best meeting the needs of all customers.”
Fast-tracking digital retail strategy
According to a mid-November announcement by CVS Health, the company plans to close 900 stores over the next three years to fast-track its digital retail strategy.
The pharmacy chain stated that it is putting more emphasis on its digital presence as consumers increasingly prefer to buy online rather than in-store.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 12 million people in the United States aged 40 and up are visually impaired.
People with vision problems may have difficulty reading the tiny fonts on prescription bottles and side-effect pamphlets. However, there is no federal law requiring pharmacies to provide patients with more accessible options.
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration enacted legislation encouraging pharmacies to develop prescription labeling solutions for visually impaired and elderly patients.
Since then, the United States Access Board has developed best practices guidelines for pharmacies, but they are not enforced.