Mark Hopkins, owner and superintendent pharmacist at Hopwoods Pharmacy in Llanedeyrn, tells Saša Janković about how tackling his own pain led him to set up a pain clinic.

Service type: Bioelectronic treatment for pain relief and rehabilitation.

Name of pharmacy: Hopwoods Pharmacy, Llanedeyrn, Cardiff.

Name of superintendent pharmacist: Mark Hopkins.

Why did you start offering this service?

We’ve been offering specific advice and products in the area of sports injury and rehabilitation for 25 years, working with more than 400 sports teams across the UK at our peak. With the advent of the internet and Amazon we decided we needed to look for a more unique USP to enhance our offering, and were approached by a UK tech start-up company – NuroKor Bioelectronics – to try their latest technology. After a lifetime spent bending over dispensing prescriptions, I tried their device for my chronic neck pain and had a very positive personal result, so I decided to roll out the service to our patients in August 2019.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

An initial stock investment of £200-400 is all that is needed.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?

Training was provided for the pharmacy team on how best to get results from the equipment, but the products have been designed for consumers to operate without medical supervision, so they are relatively straightforward to get to grips with.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

Providing patients have no contraindications they receive a 20-minute free of charge consultation and treatment with the appropriate NuroKor mitouch or mibody bioelectrical device, depending on how the patient presents and if their pain is in multiple sites.

The treatment can be delivered via gel pads, as well as electro conductive accessorises that target specific areas of the body. The KorBand is a great way of delivering electrotherapy to the lower back, abdomen or large muscle groups. With the KorGlov electroconductive gloves we have seen several significant results with osteoarthritis patients showing pain reduction, increased range of movement and the ability to perform basic tasks again such as teeth cleaning, brushing hair and using a knife. The KorShoe is not just designed for pain relief therapy but also for neuro-muscular stimulation of the lower limb, which has other medical benefits especially in oedema, peripheral neuropathy, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and so on.

Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?

Pre Covid we saw about 2-3 patients a day for treatment, and now it’s fallen to more like 3-4 a week. However, since lockdown we have seen a large increase of online sales due to many people now working from home and ending up suffering musculoskeletal issues from a poor working environment.

How much do you charge for the service?

The first session is free, and if the patient requires another session it is £20 for 20 mins.

Are there any opportunities to sell OTC or prescription products during or after the consultation?

Patients report positive results and even after one session, more than 50% of people end up purchasing a device from us. The prices range from £39 to £399 depending on the device.

Roughly how much a month do you make from offering the service?

We make approximately £200-400 per week extra profit.

How have patients responded to the service?

Extremely well. We have treated more than 200 patients since we started the service, with more than 90% showing a positive outcome. Indeed, some have had life changing results, and we have many testimonials of patients reducing quantities of strong opiates, NSAIDs and neuropathic drugs. One lady who was suffering with chronic arthritis of the hands came back to us to say that she was very grateful for recommending the device as she'd been able to slice a loaf of bread for the first time in three years and comb her own hair.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Absolutely. The beauty of the service is that it is free of charge at point of entry, counter staff can be easily trained to supervise treatment, and patients mostly purchase the device or return for more treatment and recommend us to friends and family.

With many GP practices switching to mainly online services, pharmacies have stepped up to provide more frontline services. There’s also an increased demand from people to treat themselves at home. Being proactive about meeting the needs of their communities not only helps patients and relieves pressure on the NHS, but it also supports the future of pharmacies.

Read more case studies on pain services.