Challenges to Overcome to Build an Online Pharmacy

Blog / Challenges to Overcome to Build an Online Pharmacy

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    Sheraz Sarwar
    Sheraz SarwarApril 5, 2022

    I ensure that our clients & developers are happy as we build exciting products.

    In recent years, the healthcare industry has been much slower to progress technologically than many other parts of our lives. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced healthcare’s hand. Patients could no longer see their physicians, and administering care faced new challenges. The industry had to innovate with new digital health software development projects, and quickly. 

    The pandemic gave way to advancements in mHealth, telemedicine, healthcare software and more. Each new technology made it easier for patients to handle their own care, and improved efficiency for stretched healthcare services. 

    The concept of an online pharmacy might have seemed fraught with challenges two years ago. Now, many people choose to order their prescriptions and medical supplies online, and have them shipped directly to their homes. This is just another way that the healthcare industry has made changes to facilitate better care for patients, and improved physician availability. 

    However, as mentioned, building an online pharmacy comes with challenges. Not only is the relevant data stored across various different databases (medical providers, insurers, etc), but patient privacy is more important than ever. Online pharmacies need to improve healthcare efficiency and accessibility, while maintaining a high level of security. 


    One of the primary challenges the digital health industry faces is interoperability. This has been a considerable barrier for so many healthcare innovations. Your solution might be extremely innovative and life-changing, but it doesn’t matter if it can’t operate cohesively within existing systems. 

    A nationwide re-structure is unlikely, so any new healthcare tech needs to work with current databases and softwares. Unfortunately, many of these are outdated and limited in their capabilities. 

    Similarly, electronic health records storage provides a similar challenge for digital health companies. The software that is used for databases and record management isn’t standardized across the country. This can make it challenging to transfer data and access entire patient records. 

    Not only is this a problem for the patient, but online pharmacies need to be able to access existing health systems, insurance systems, and patient electronic health records. Without this information, the pharmacy cannot verify the prescribed medication, identify the patient, or confirm insurance coverage. Ultimately, this wouldn’t improve the patient experience.

    Online pharmacy software needs to be able to integrate with as many healthcare systems as possible. It also needs to be able to access databases of patient information

    Digital Health Software Development


    HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a set of regulations meant to protect patient privacy in the healthcare system. Originally, it was intended to help employees access healthcare when they changed employers. However, it is now a critical driver of healthcare privacy.

    Every patient has the right to the security of their data. It should be protected during storage, and transmission across healthcare facilities or organizations. Any organization that deals with Protected Health Information (PHI) is required to comply with HIPAA rules. These are referred to as covered entities

    As with any digital health solution, online pharmacies are also required to abide by HIPAA rules. An online pharmacy needs to process personal information for payments, details on treatments and medications, information related to patient illness and more. Each transaction is a potential risk for a HIPAA violation, without appropriate safeguards. A violation of HIPAA would put a digital health company at risk.

    The storage and transmission of personal data need to be secure, in order to be HIPAA compliant. All data should be encrypted, and appropriate technical security in place. Therefore, any online pharmacy software needs to be built with compliance from the start. Not all development companies are familiar with privacy regulations, so it’s important to find development teams that know HIPAA privacy requirements. 


    Developing a payment system might seem like a relatively simple task, as most online software and apps have them. However, online pharmacies need to process payments a little differently.

    An online pharmacy needs to be able to handle payments using credit cards, insurance co-pays, HSA’s and more. This requires a separate payment system for each payment type. If the customer is using insurance, the system needs to be able to communicate with insurers, and confirm the payment. 

    Not only that, but the medical software needs to be able to calculate the amount the patient needs to pay. This will be different for each individual case, depending on insurance coverage and prescription costs. An online pharmacy requires unique software solutions.

    As with any online service or app, payments also need secure software. The process needs to meet all privacy regulations, and maintain security for customer details. Overall, developers need to have experience in building payment software, as well as an understanding of the complexities of healthcare payments. The right development company is critical. 

    Digital Health Software Development

    User Experience

    With all the challenges that come with building an online pharmacy, it’s important that the user experience doesn’t deteriorate. 

    Users need to be able to navigate easily, and have as smooth an experience as possible. Otherwise, it defeats the target of providing an online pharmacy for convenience. Therefore, front-end development is key. 

    Once the software has been developed from the back-end, and is secure and functions well, focus on making the end product as simple as possible. This ensures that the user has the best experience possible with the pharmacy. 

    Consider offering the option to upload electronic prescriptions, and integrate with their healthcare professional. This takes as much heavy-lifting out of the customer's hand as possible.

    Users want to spend as little time as possible on regular tasks like ordering prescriptions, so it’s important to make the experience intuitive and smooth.

    At Vertrical, we understand the challenges that the latest healthcare innovations can face. Our experienced development teams offer compliance expertise, and understand the digital healthcare industry. Get in touch with us today to discuss how our talent can help to drive your digital health software development projects.



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