In a digital-first world, where everything is available and accessible in a single click, it’s only logical for customers to expect the same when it comes to their healthcare and pharmaceutical needs. In this disruptive industry, that means providing a simple and convenient platform in the guise of an online pharmacy application that connects patients with providers and logistics under one big umbrella.
The online pharmaceutical space has seen tremendous pandemic-induced growth. It is evident in the increment of purchase of online prescriptions by 1,000% during the early stages of the pandemic. While this statistic alone is enough to understand the opportunities that online medicines offer, let’s look at how pharmaceutical companies can benefit from an online eCommerce model.
What will be the future? An online pharmacy application that connects customers with medical services
eCommerce was already on the rise before the pandemic, thanks to big players like Alibaba, Shopee and Amazon. The pandemic has directly spurred the expansion of e-commerce in the face of numerous travel bans and lockdowns worldwide – And its repercussions affected a number of industries, including the medical industry.
With travel bans in effect, customers were compelled to consider alternative measures in procuring their healthcare essentials – and this trend is here to stay even after the pandemic ends.
According to a recent Adobe study, the transition to e-commerce is permanent. The e-commerce industry is expected to grow in an accelerated phase in the coming years. This positive trend will continue to include the online healthcare drive, which will grow to meet the ever-changing provider and patient needs in the digital environment.
With the worldwide healthcare e-commerce market expected to reach $435.8 billion in revenue by 2025, it is apparent that both enterprises and the general consumer population have a need for online health products and services. Hence, having an online pharmacy application will benefit both the provider and the consumer.
Opportunities to explore in line with the rise in Online Pharmacies
In an interview with Ken research, Mr Amrahi Buang, President of Malaysia Pharmaceutical Society (MPS), said “Telemedicine and e-pharmacy services will continue to grow as citizens have transferred their preferences to online consultations during the 2019 outbreak. “Mr Amrahi predicted that the future is an online pharmacy model.
Here are some contributing factors
- Prevalence of Lifestyle Related Diseases.
High income, lousy eating habits, high stress and a sedentary lifestyle have led to an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle amongst the younger generation. In general, around 13.5 per cent of adults aged 18 are overweight and 28.7 per cent are obese (BMI>25) as of December 2019. These trends will translate to a significant force behind the increase in the pharmacy retail industry.
- Business not as Usual.
According to recent research, the lockdown period in Malaysia has lowered the number of operating hours for businesses. This has increased online delivery by 15% for product categories, namely personal care, sanitisers, nutrition & health supplements, and more
- Pricing Policies and Government Intervention.
The Malaysian Cabinet implemented an External Reference Pricing Policy in May 2019 to benchmark drug prices at the wholesale and retail levels to reduce customer costs. However, the policy reduced drug trade margins in the country, resulting in many pharmaceutical players coveting to reach as many customers as possible.
- Standardisation of Healthcare Spending.
Healthcare spending in 2019 amounted to 10% of Malaysia’s overall budget, with the government’s goal of achieving long-term growth matched with the WHO recommended healthcare spending of 7% of GDP.
Excellent Opportunities for Online Pharmacy Applications
Advanced Technology Opens Doors
Pharmacies can profit greatly from a range of services and solutions that offer value for both pharmacists and consumers by investing in better technologies in line with their retail presence. For example, pharmacies can invest in telemedicine and remote monitoring.
As consumers and pharmacists see the benefits of pharma e-commerce, it’s projected to become a fixture in health and fitness. Because of the pandemic’s relaxed regulations, pharmacists could handle prescriptions and medicine orders remotely, allowing community pharmacies to remain open and retain customer interaction.
Pharmacist Roles Are Expanding
A pharmacist’s position is dependent on technology when it comes to issuing prescriptions to patients, yet, many pharmacies do not use all of the patient-aimed technology accessible to them.
The patient’s concern is especially crucial because pharmacists do more than write medical instructions for patients. They also provide patient education, pharmaceutical therapy management, drug monitoring, and illness management. In addition, because pharmacists’ legal capacities differ from state to state, several lobbying initiatives have campaigned for them to obtain a provider-level category nationwide.
Looking at these opportunities can only point towards a primary goal, i.e., pharmacists in Malaysia should go online. The sooner, the better!
The continued growth of pharmaceutical e-commerce will undoubtedly spark a revolution to provide the most streamlined way of online medicine. Offering patients and providers the option of online drug purchasing, combined with other helpful technologies such as real-time price monitoring and spend tracking, should create an effortless and efficient pharmaceutical experience. For example, patients who are aged 60 and above need recurring medicine refills. For such patients, an online pharmacy application that provides efficient order tracking and procurement of medicines is an ideal solution.
Additionally, vendors can expand their businesses with online pharmacies while reaching more patients and providers in need. For instance, patients in rural areas may not live close to pharmacies, making online drug ordering ideal for such populations.
As the healthcare industry continues to evolve to meet the needs of today’s providers and patients, so too will B2B and B2C pharmaceutical e-commerce offerings and platforms. As a result, pharmaceutical vendors and manufacturers must act now to reap the rewards of this rapidly expanding industry.
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