Pharmacies in an Era of Digital Health: Trends and Opportunities

Pharmacies in an Era of Digital Health Trends and Opportunities

Information technology (IT) in the modern world is used everywhere. Healthcare is no exception. Modern IT developments have a positive impact on the development of new ways of organizing medical care for the population. A large number of countries have long been actively using new technologies in the health sector. Conducting teleconsultations of patients and staff, exchange of information about patients between various institutions, remote recording of physiological parameters, monitoring of operations in real time — all these opportunities are provided by the introduction of information technology in medicine. This brings the informatization of healthcare to a new level of development, having a positive effect on all aspects of its activities.

According to statistical studies, online pharmacies are growing rapidly as a business. It is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce segments in the USA. Why? Largely thanks to the events of 2020 – after all, isolation has almost completely changed the conditions for doing business, both online and offline. People have become very actively interested in the topic of health.

Over the past year, interest in home delivery of drugs from a pharmacy has grown by 573% to 120,000 requests, and the level of confidence in online purchases continues to grow: if delivery is fast enough, it is easier for a client to order medication online than to search for the necessary goods in different pharmacies.

First, about the benefits of online pharmacies

Online pharmacies have many obvious advantages – no need to waste time looking for a drugstore and the ability to get medicines delivered right to your home door. But there are other advantages that do not lie on the surface:

  • The online pharmacy has a very wide range of medicines. It is usually wider than in regular pharmacies. An online pharmacy has almost everything you need to improve your health;
  • There is no need to be in a hurry, there are no queues. You can study the drug in detail, compare prices, search for information about the drug in independent sources;
  • No risk of contracting any disease. Sick people often come to regular pharmacies, which can be a source of infection;
  • Online pharmacies are available to all types of shoppers, including sedentary patients unable to reach a regular drugstore and parents with small children who cannot be left home alone.

Focus on omnichannel

Today we can confidently say: the digital future in medicine and pharmaceuticals has come. The new digitized environment dictates its own terms. Offline drugstores used multichannel for effective development, but today market players need a full-fledged omnichannel approach, which allows not only to realize different opportunities but also to track their effectiveness, organically connecting online and offline.

Omnichannel allows e-drugstores to provide new types of standard services and attract additional categories of buyers, flexibly adapt to changing conditions, deeply personalize communication, effectively deliver information to audiences, optimize marketing budgets of participants (pharmacies, manufacturers, retailers), as well as understand the needs of different audiences around the same product – for example, consumers of a particular drug, doctors who prescribe it, and pharmacy points of sale (online and offline).

Digital and IT technologies are transforming service traffic channels in medicine and pharmaceutical industry. Online pharmacist’s consultations and ordering medicines on the Internet replaced face-to-face visits of patients to clinics and pharmacies. Now you can take advantage of telemedicine, professional social networks, exchange of experience and counseling via mobile services.

For example, Trust Pharmacy successfully tested the sale of medicines online via their website – consumers could receive an online pharmacist’s consultation and purchase low-cost drugs from the comfort of their homes.

Today, thepharmacy is looking not only for ways to promote products and services for consumers but also for improved methods of interaction with medical professionals. The latter, in turn, increasingly prefer digital communication to live communication.

Alexander Meyer, Business Development Manager, Trust Pharmacy:

“We have been using various formats for a long time, building communication with consumers in the digital health segment – usually this term means the use of online technologies to solve health problems and a number of other problems facing patients. In 2021, about 20-30% of drugs are already sold using online channels, in addition to this, the share of digital services is growing.”

E-detailing in pharmaceutics

During the period of strict quarantine, medical representatives were deprived of the opportunity to visit doctors in person and were forced to look for other ways of communication. The solution was e-detailing – a set of solutions for building remote cooperation between a pharmaceutical company and doctors.

This method allows reducing the cost of drug withdrawal, delimiting promotion channels, locally saving on advertising materials, logistics and personnel costs. In addition, e-detailing helps to collect important information about a doctor’s practice, his/her prescriptions to patients, and feedback. Integration of CRM and CLM allows seeing the full picture, from the current contacts of a medical specialist to the history of his/her interaction with a presentation about a pharmaceutical company product: what questions he/she asked, on which pages he/she stayed, how he/she worked with interactive sections.

Quarantine has updated consumer behavior algorithms. Pharma Marketing Network’s online survey shows how pharmacy sales figures and consumer behavior have changed. For example, the average check increased at 71% of pharmacies, and the number of buyers and their requests for advice increased by 32%. 30% of buyers purchase antiviral drugs. There is an increase in unconscious demand: people buy drugs for future use, consult, but at the same time they still get information from the Internet.

Internet and pharmaceutical drugs

Self-isolation in 2020 spurred the growth of online consumer demand: 44% of Americans began ordering drugs online after such an opportunity appeared. Demand continued after the abolition of restrictions: people are increasingly choosing the remote option for purchasing pharmaceuticals.

In the spring of 2020, the volume of the online pharmaceutical market amounted to $1,7 billion or 78 million orders by the end of 2020.

Online medicine in 2021

According to Pharma Marketing Network, the volume of the telemedicine consulting market in the USA by the end of 2025 may increase to $1.3 billion. The U.S. Department of the Treasury approved targets at the beginning of 2021, according to which the share of medical consultations provided via the Internet should increase to 50% of their total by 2030. The development of online medicine is facilitated by the transition of communication with patients to social networks and video platforms, as well as the popularization of new communication formats, such as personalized messages, webinars, and online conferences. This enables companies to find out as much data as possible about consumers: their lifestyle, gastronomic preferences, level of physical activity, bad and good habits, existing diseases and symptoms.

Arrays of such data, integrated into the omnichannel system of interaction of all participants in the pharmaceutical and medical market (pharmaceutical companies, medical representatives, doctors, pharmacists, pharmacies, insurers), allow providing customers with complex services in a convenient format.

Category: General Issues

Tags: medication, medicine, online pharmacy, online service, pharmacy