How Is eCommerce Impacting the Healthcare Sector?
- Nidhi Arora
- 2 years
The e-commerce Healthcare Industry is capturing the attention of many entrepreneurs and established service providers that already have a strong base in the online retailing world. For example, Amazon has been running experimental projects in the healthcare industry since 2014. From providing medical supplies online to making experiments of treating cancer-like diseases using machine learning — the brand is leaving no stone unturned in winning the healthcare space.
In 2017, Amazon accounted for 35% of all online medical supplies sales, generating $2.1 Billion in revenue. In 2018, it acquired Pillpack (an online pharmacy startup) and partnered with Accenture for an AWS-driven drug development platform. Not just Amazon, several b2b eCommerce healthcare brands are trying to establish their empire in the healthcare world. But, why?
Here is the reason,
Healthcare eCommerce is expected to have a market value of approximately $200
billion by 2022 – PRNewsWire.
Seeing the huge potential of the healthcare eCommerce market, businesses are juggling to grab even a small pie of this big cake. But, only innovative and proactive leaders who care about emerging trends and technologies shall win the space.
This blog lists how eCommerce is impacting the healthcare sector and what mistakes businesses shall avoid to stay competitive in this industry. So, let’s get started.
The Future of Healthcare and eCommerce
A flawless experience of getting services online isn’t just for entertainment and shopping, consumers expect the same level of convenience and personalization from their healthcare provider as well. Especially after the deadly pandemic, people want to get everything at their doorsteps, including healthcare and medical supplies, to avoid any kind of hassles and risks.
Here is what the future of Healthcare eCommerce looks like:
AI is one such technology that has its application in almost every industry and Healthcare eCommerce is no different. From patient care, healthcare product recommendations to assisted diagnosis, and telemedicine – AI can help healthcare businesses thrive in this digital age.
It is known for maximizing efficiency and minimizing human errors. The Healthcare AI market is expected to grow from $2.1 Billion in 2018 to $36.1 Billion in 2025, representing a staggering CAGR of 50.2%.
AR and VR
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are surely going to be a big thing in the Healthcare eCommerce world. From small businesses to enterprise-level organizations, everyone is embracing virtual reality to provide patients the care they require. AR/VR technologies have enabled doctors to deliver personalized care experiences to patients and this trend is expected to continue. As a result, the investment in this space is expected to reach $2.4 Billion by 2026.
To achieve success in the digital age, healthcare providers and businesses need to create an omnichannel strategy to provide patients a streamlined experience across every touchpoint. Just like in retail, the customer journey is not usually linear in the healthcare industry, making it crucial for businesses to adopt a multichannel approach for better care and conversions.
The Benefits of eCommerce Adoption for the Healthcare Sector
Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of eCommerce in the health and wellness industry:
Ease of Access
eCommerce in healthcare is revolutionizing the way consumers purchase medical products. The trend is making the internet a big pharmacy that is available for people all around the globe with big inventory and never-ending supplies.
- Mobile apps and eCommerce websites are allowing patients to buy medications from any corner of the world.
- eCommerce vendors are taking the initiative to deliver direct to the patient’s doorsteps — hassle-free and fast.
- With the features like live chat and video conferencing, healthcare professionals can even monitor patients remotely from any corner of the world.
eCommerce is also increasing the efficiency of those working in the healthcare field. When non-emergency patients are diverted from hospitals or clinics to online, people who are in severe condition can get the full attention of hospital resources to get the care they need. These resources can be doctors, nurses, or medical tools or items. This increased efficiency can be beneficial for patients as well as doctors, especially in hard times like COVID-19.
Moreover, getting treatment from the comfort of their homes will decrease many hassles for patients as well. For example, patients in rural areas can benefit most from the tech-savvy eCommerce healthcare industry and they don’t need to commute to talk to their doctors.
Due to increased efficiency in the healthcare industry, costs could be lowered for many. According to a report, online visits cost 30% or less of the offline visits and the difference will increase in case of an emergency. This difference in expense can be extremely appealing for Americans who have low incomes or don’t have medical insurance.
6 Challenges to Tackle Before Building a Healthcare eCommerce Business
While the health eCommerce market holds great potential, it is not easy to grab your space and earn revenue in this sector due to many challenges associated with it. While several customers love to avail medical services online, managing operations and making deliveries on time is back-breaking in the healthcare eCommerce world.
There are many rules and regulations that you should keep in mind before you consider investing in developing a healthcare eCommerce platform.
All healthcare businesses must comply with HIPAA policies and adhere to the regulation set by regulatory bodies. That means businesses need to ensure that the medical history and data of their customers or patients remain confidential and encrypted all the time. Not complying with HIPAA policies, intentionally or unintentionally, could create several legal problems.
Time Sensitivity: If you are running a retail business online and your delivery gets late by a few days, it won’t be a big deal for many customers. But, in the healthcare sector, it could be a life-death scenario. For example, if a customer relies on a vendor for a specific medication or a much-required medical device, the vendor must deliver it on time.
There is no scope of delay in delivery due to any condition as it could cause big problems for customers. Thus, for healthcare businesses entering the eCommerce world, it is crucial to understand that reliability and consistency should be their top goals when it comes to shipping and managing their operation in such a way that leaves no chance for a delay.
Compliance for Dangerous Material
The biggest headache for some companies in the healthcare eCommerce world is to automate the complicated paperwork of radioactive or dangerous materials. Keeping costs down, improving productivity, staying up-to-date, and avoiding returned shipments and fines are imperative for compliance.
Visibility and Reporting
An efficient customer service strategy is crucial to get success in the eCommerce world. In the healthcare eCommerce industry, it is necessary to provide every single piece of information to customers regarding when their order will be ready for dispatch or if there are any possible roadblocks. Sometimes you need to sell and ship time-sensitive products so there is no scope of false reporting — you must maintain 100% transparency and visibility with all your stakeholders.
Heavy Business Rules
When it comes to delivering healthcare products, businesses need to have special rules in place to ensure no damage or harm occurs during the shipping process. For example, some products may need to be delivered in a temperature-controlled manner or others may need sunlight restriction. Building and following such rules can be too exhausting for teams.
The impact of eCommerce on the healthcare industry is immense and for all good reasons. Due to the advancement in technology, efficiency and ease of access are improved and that is leading to a healthier and happier population in many nations. But, for businesses who want to thrive, there are still a few challenges that they need to overcome for better results. So, are you ready?