Digital commerce has transformed various industries, and healthcare is no exception. As the global population ages and people take a greater interest in healthy lifestyles, we’ll also see more demand for accessible goods and services in the medical sphere. Medical eCommerce opportunities extend beyond selling pharmaceutical products online and include medical supplies, devices, and technology.
According to Global Market Insights, the digital health market size exceeded $106 billion USD in 2019 and is set to grow 28.5% CAGR between 2020 and 2026. A growing number of smartphone users and internet penetration across the globe will be key factors driving the market growth. Businesses like Doctors on Demands, and the rise of medical marketplaces such as MDSave and MyMedicare will increase selection, promote price transparency, and improve the customer experience.
However, medical eCommerce is not without its challenges. It’s difficult to apply eCommerce to products and services associated with people’s medical histories. Due to the industry’s highly regulated nature, medical eCommerce may not be getting the same attention as other industries.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the trends and challenges to keep in mind when exploring healthcare digital commerce opportunities.
ECommerce Trends and Challenges in the Medical Industry
Health eCommerce is more than just creating online shops or marketplaces for medical devices. Digital trends in product design, AI, connectivity, and big data will impact everything from research and design to manufacturing, distribution, and fulfillment.
Facilities expect to quickly order and reorder medical supplies, devices and have them delivered on time. Healthcare practitioners look to diversify and re-risk supply chains and increase the security of shipping medication, samples, and biological material. Customers demand more convenience and less friction – they already expect easy online experiences whether purchasing medicines, medical services, or engaging in teleservices.
Hospitals, medical institutions, and healthcare services must adapt to changing technology trends and the new demands of increasingly digital users. At the same time, the health industry is massive and faces many challenges – from cultural to regulatory in nature. Let’s explore these challenges in greater detail.
Slow adoption among senior populations
Older populations tend to use healthcare products and services the most, but many remain skeptical of technology or unwilling to use it. Changing usual doctors and routines and keeping up with trends is difficult for them. They’re less likely to perform research independently and likely to turn to friends and family members for advice. As such, brands can use digital channels to market to younger individuals in the hopes they’ll relay information to parents and grandparents.
Adoption within the healthcare industry
Lack of efficiency, price transparency, difficulty of access plague many health services to this day. According to research by McKinsey, organizational culture and ineffective industry practices are some of the top challenges to digital adoption in healthcare. Depending on the area of business, innovators may experience resistance from all sides. Leaders must drive education across their organization, communicate benefits, and address resistance before implementing eCommerce technologies.
Customer experience disruptions
The medical industry has been slow to catch up to rising customer expectations, and that’s allowing non-hospital groups like United Health, CVS Health, Amazon, and Apple to threaten hospitals and health systems. According to Kaufman Hall, 81% of respondents identified the customer experience as a top priority for organizations, while only 11% admitted having best-in-class capabilities. Hospitals and care institutions must maintain focus on the customer experience to fend off disruption from the competition.
The healthcare sector has to comply with HIPAA, a federal regulation mandating doctors, healthcare providers, and business entities to ensure the privacy and security of patient data. These regulations aim specifically at secure access and storage of patient data, which causes some difficulty in implementing any new technology, including digital commerce. When selecting your technology stack, pay attention to regulation compliance, particularly when it comes to deployment and data hosting options.
Supply chain challenges
The pandemic introduced a host of new supply chain challenges. As supplies dried up, sourcing became a problem, too. This placed enormous strains on supply chains, manufacturers, distributors, businesses, hospitals, and governments. Forward-thinking brands are building resilient supply chains and technology to track inventory and make accurate projections. They need visibility across the supply chain to identify stock trends and better plan for the future.
Other business challenges
Many organizations in the healthcare sector are used to physical file cabinets and shuffling through paper records. Smaller clinics and facilities might not have in-house IT talent, the expertise to analyze business trends and identify gaps in the customer experience. They may not have the resources to drive transformation, whether it’s to raise capital, craft sophisticated change management projects, and see them through to completion.
The healthcare industry has changed drastically after COVID-19. Demand for supplies skyrocketed, health priorities shifted, hospitals and institutions had to contend with strained facilities and lost revenues. Manufacturers and distributors had to deal with supply chain disruptions. Governments didn’t sit still either – the US recognized the importance of changing HIPAA to reflect today’s digital realities. This resulted in changes in health insurance and medical programs, too.
Having said that, the future of eCommerce is bright in healthcare. Digital commerce offers many solutions and resolves longstanding inefficiencies in the industry. These systems can cut costs, improve staff productivity, and differentiate the customer experience to future-proof your business.
“Hi, I am Mohd Zaid Mansoori, a teenage Content Marketer, Designer, Digital Marketer, and Tech Enthusiast from Uttar Pradesh, India. I am a student who is also a freelancer and is working on some Awesome Websites like InnovationFunda.”