Digital Transformation

Pharmacy & Digital: The Road to Success

December 22, 2019


Sarah Falcon

As multiple sectors adapt to an increasingly digital world, medical - and particularly pharmaceutical - communities are uniquely positioned to utilize technology to better meet consumer needs. 

They also must adapt their business models, as Amazon announced in June of 2018 its plans to enter the pharmaceutical digital space. Given Amazon’s unparalleled history of disruption, pharma companies should be taking note of this digital health news.

Currently, pharmacy generates $275 billion in annual revenue, but only 1% of it is online. This massive, untapped market is ripe for picking, provided that companies have adequate capacity and the right strategy in place.

It’s time for the pharmaceutical industry to look at integrating technology, personalization, and eCommerce solutions to create more convenient, customized experiences for consumers, which will ultimately result in better healthcare. 

Digital Innovations in Pharma 

There’s no doubt that eCommerce has upended traditional retail. From searchable, comparable, and price-transparent shopping options, to direct-to-consumer solutions, the way people shop has changed.

Yet these principles have yet to be applied to the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, one of the biggest complaints against the industry is its lack of transparency. Most patients don’t necessarily know the price they’ll be expected to pay for their medications. 

The current pharma structure means that consumers have little ability to price-shop. They have even less choice when it comes to timely and cost-effective delivery options - a dilemma that can result in a patient remaining sick longer than necessary, passing their illness onto a classmate or colleague, or not having immediate access to medication needed to treat a chronic condition. 

Consumers also have few opportunities to interact with pharmacists in a private, secure setting, where they can have their questions addressed. Sometimes it’s challenging to simply just fill or refill a prescription, as most pharmacies aren’t fully-stocked.

These shortfalls present the pharma industry with a unique opportunity to use technology to meet ever-increasing consumer needs. 

Easy-to-navigate online account management, improved delivery services, interactive mobile apps, price transparency tools, access to digital pharmacists, videos demonstrating how to use specific RXs like inhalers or EpiPens, and even texted or emailed follow-ups to verify that the patient is taking their medication are all ways that the pharmaceutical industry can incorporate aspects of eCommerce to better meet customer needs.

The reality is that digital health solutions are the way of the future. Customers are increasingly inclined to expect digital options, and they can provide a more convenient and customized approach to personal healthcare - a win for everyone.

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