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Ustwo Well Pharmacy

How can Well Pharmacy be future proofed to remain relevant and competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace?

This student brief and project was written in collaboration with digital agency ustwo. It was a version of the brief that they were set by their own client Well Pharmacy. This eight-week project ran from January to March 2018 with 12 students working in pairs.

The brief in a nutshell – how can Well Pharmacy be future proofed to remain relevant and competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace?


In an increasingly digital world, new disruptors and challenges to the healthcare market are threatening the traditional pharmacy. Services like Echo, Babylon and Vida are taking healthcare out of pharmacies and bringing them to people’s homes and devices. Meanwhile, there is an increased pressure on the NHS and community pharmacies with a 7% cut in pharmacy funding for 2017/2018.

Healthcare in the UK exists as a complex network, where the NHS and private specialists, digital services and physical spaces all intertwine. People’s behaviours, concerns, needs and perceptions around healthcare can be deeply ingrained and difficult to change. Well’s existing consumer base of older, sicker and poorer is particularly difficult to convert to digital. People with multiple conditions tend to be prioritised by healthcare providers. Which audiences are most likely to respond to a digital healthcare offering by Well?

Well Pharmacy is known as the ‘Community Pharmacist’ with a brand promise of ‘Personalised Healthcare in the heart of the Community.’ This stems from a history of knowing your local pharmacist, chatting to locals while waiting and building a rapport. This is especially important for older or chronic groups who crave consistency. What does this mean for digital, and how can it be negotiated with convenience?


Well is a traditional pharmacy based in North England and Wales. Formerly part of the Co-Operative Group and known as the Co-Operative Pharmacy, they were acquired by private business Bestway in 2014. Well is now the 3rd largest pharmacy chain in the UK which in their words is ‘the worst place to be’ – when healthcare is about trust, brand loyalty needs to be high.

Well’s core offering is currently around prescription services, but they know there are inefficiencies where data, time and money are being lost. Well’s prescription rates have increased while their efficiency has decreased. The role of the pharmacist has been diminished to packing pills in the back of the pharmacy, rather than remaining front of house and providing care for patients.

Well Pharmacy’s existing consumer base leans towards an older demographic. They have a low digital maturity, with 0.46m web visits a year compared to 243m for Boots and 570m for NHS Choices.


Students followed a relatively traditional design process:

  • The eight-week project followed the Design Council’s Double Diamond design process Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver with each phase lasting two-weeks.
  • The twelve students worked in pairs, however, work was shared at the end of each phase.
  • Work was presented for review via Skype to ustwo’s creative director Helen Fuchs and Senior Designer Marissa Jensen.


A variety of newly imagined services arose from from new service offers that included smart pharmacy vending machines, health advice groups in local coffee shops, AI driven e-health apps for both customers and pharmacists, and even a pharmacist chatbot on Facebook.




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