E-COMMERCE HEALTHCARE SECTOR DURING COVID-19

E-commerce is also known as internet commerce or electronic commerce and refers to the sales and purchase of goods and services using the internet. It has also enabledthe healthcare institutions like hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities to purchase medical equipment and supplies through online channels. Healthcare e-commerce includes buying and selling medical devices and drugs and offers advantages such as convenience, lower prices & discounts, a wide range of products, replacement & refund policies, reviews & feedbacks, and quality certifications.

The demand within the global healthcare e-commerce market is growing on back of continuous advancements in the e-commerce industry and online sales of medication. As consumers turn toward the internet for their healthcare needs, e-commerce vendors have introduced a new segment for healthcare. The healthcare e-commerce market is tending towards maturity, and several healthcare products are being dispelled via e-commerce channels.COVID-19 setback has also increased the demands for online healthcare facilities. Paranoia from the novel coronavirus, social distancing measures to avoid contagion, limited access to diagnostic centres, poor socio-economic infrastructure, and inadequate medical supplies at local pharmacies created a huge demand for online medical solutions and services. Even the healthcare services for non-communicable diseases suffered a major disruption when there was an insurgent spike in coronavirus patients with severe symptoms. Hence, the pandemic period became a challenging time for vulnerable groups suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, thyroid, etc. Healthcare e-commerce channels also provided an online platform for people to do online consultations with medical professionals and purchase medical products and other resources from the convenience of their home. The involvement of healthcare e-commerce start-ups also supported the government measures to control the spread of the coronavirus to an extent.

The global healthcare e-commerce market has undergone multiple developments over the recent past and due to pandemic online health care sector is growing at a great pace. There are number of corporate giants who have investedin E-healthcare sector. Amazon has disrupted the healthcare e-commerce market by introducing several new products and platforms within healthcare. The company launched Amazon Comprehend Medical, a platform that helps in aggregating patients’ records using machine learning. This strategy has helped Amazon in establishing near monopoly in the global healthcare e-commerce market.In 2018, Amazon acquired PillPack, an established online pharmacy that specialized in delivering prescribed medications to customers. This strategy is suggestive of Amazon’s intent to consolidating its positions by garnering competitive gains.Other notable vendors in the global healthcare e-commerce market are Exactcare Pharmacy, eBay Inc., CVS Health, McCabes Pharmacy, and Alibaba Group.The impromptu lockdown inflicted in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic bestowed an astonishing opportunity in healthcare e-commerce start-ups in India too.

It’s the right time for the investments and start-ups in E-healthcare sector. This sector is proving to be a promising business area in near future.

By Mr. Nisha Wadhawan

Assistant Professor

Department Of Management Studies

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