The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a remarkable shift in perspective and a growing number of people are now realizing the importance of the age-old adage: Prevention is better than cure. Retail pharmacy chains have also seen similar shifts in customer lifestyle habits, leading local and neighborhood pharmacies to become a trusted partner for most consumers.
Retail pharmacies are now more than just traditional pharmacists; they have become essential to people’s daily lives and are not only visited in case of illness. This change is largely due to the pandemic. During the brutal second wave of Covid-19 in India, pharmacy retail chains supported consumers in every possible way by delivering medicines, medical products and other health-related goods in a timely manner. To do so, they leveraged both online and offline delivery channels. Overall, this has led to an increased reliance on retail drugstore chains which have now become providers of non-medical medical, drug and wellness products. Additionally, he accelerated the adoption of digital strategy initiatives for pharmacies and other healthcare organizations such as pathology labs. It is now up to the healthcare industry to further leverage the benefits of technology and make it a ubiquitous part of its ecosystem.
Growth of telemedicine:
People availed of the pharmacy’s services over the phone, chat, delivery service apps, or even just by visiting the store. Along with these new era digital technologies, pharmacies have also explored the possibilities of getting closer to doctors, private clinics and hospitals, creating a radius of influence (ROI) for themselves. Digital technology has paved the way for pharmacies to cater to a certain radius and the change this has brought about is evident. With the growing importance of healthcare in India, pharmacies and pharmacists are set to become even more integrated into the system. Rather than just dispensing drugs, in the future they may be better able to provide better personalized and patient-friendly services, and organized pharmacies may increasingly move towards establishing such personalized relationships with consumers. This has been evident with the growth of telemedicine.
A significant increase in disposable income, coupled with the rise of health-conscious attitudes, has led to a larger market for health and wellness products. With the emergence of genetic testing and predictive medicine, there is a growing awareness in the field of gender-specific diseases, particularly in the differences between the types of diseases that affect men and women, and the need to different therapeutic approaches. We can expect innovative new drugs and inexpensive alternatives to existing therapies over the next decade.
Pharmacist-recommended health and wellness products in segments such as sexual wellness and intimate hygiene are also on the rise. Indeed, retail chains have understood the need for such products and are effectively marketing them to consumers who are traditionally reluctant to take advantage of them openly. Since sexual wellness tends to be discussed in low tones, pharmacies use online displays and delivery models to promote consumer privacy and discretion. In the future, omnichannel or hyperlocal pharmacy models should become adept at delivering seamless experiences to consumers. Whether it’s in-person delivery, app/website, phone delivery or any other mode of service, integrated business models will continue to grow and pharmacies need to ensure they are ready to embrace this change.
All technologies have the potential to serve customers in new ways. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, predictive dashboard, KPI tracking, real-time order confirmation, integrated complaint resolution platforms and payment gateways are some of the exciting advancements in the healthcare industry that will help retailers grow. The pandemic has thus created a technological shift that is currently pushing the retail pharmacy sector into a new and improved phase of progress, and it has led to the rapid adoption of telemedicine services that will ultimately help capture greater shares of market and growth opportunities. .
By Ashraf Biran, Founder and Director, Wellness Forever Medicare