DIGITAL INTERACTIVE SERVICES
Accessible healthcare through ecommerce
One of the lasting impacts of Covid has been getting people hooked on the immense convenience of online or in-app ordering and home deliveries. E-commerce has been around for decades, but it took Covid and the consequent restrictions to integrate in an immersive manner into the fabric of our lives. The havoc wrought by Covid has highlighted the dire limitations of conventional avenues of healthcare and its delivery. Accessible healthcare is the demand of the hour like never before. Most countries facing issues with managing healthcare for an aging population are looking to e-commerce and m-commerce (mobile commerce) to meet the needs of chronic condition care. Medical products and services must be available at the fingertips like any other necessity. The future belongs to businesses that utilise data and technology like AI and ML to provide hyper-personalisation and customer convenience in an increasingly digital world.
Let's take an in-depth look at healthcare services and products that can be made available omnichannel and the impact of having them pervasively available in people's lives:
Avoid delays, order instantly, and get well at the soonest. With virtual pharmacies around, procuring medicines no longer involves a commute or a queue. Just upload the prescription, and the order will appear at your doorstep. Refilling of prescriptions can be automated as well. The privacy offered by an online pharmacy helps people who need to buy medicines for an illness that might cause social embarrassment when done in person.
Home deliveries are the lifeline of the elderly or the ill who live alone and cannot make the trip to a physical store. Even for the younger population, the convenience and time saved in their hectic lives make managing health via gadgets attractive. And for caregivers of the elderly or the ill, a digital option is a lifesaver that allows them to juggle all the various demands on their time and avoid caregiver burnout. The choice of being able to automate replenishment is another item ticked off in that stress-inducing to-do list.
Most diagnostic labs have an online presence and provide home pathology services where health workers visit homes to collect samples. People with chronic diseases manage their illnesses better as there is no delay or lapse in the required periodic testing, ensuring timely dosage adjustments and preventing complications arising due to delayed diagnosis.
Minor health issues can be easily handled with online medical consultations. The convenience of doing a virtual consultation nudges people into getting their ailment treated instead of ignoring it and running the risk of it deteriorating into a condition that might prove expensive or them having to take time off work. Medical episodes or emergencies do not occur with a warning or at a convenient hour. Access to expert medical advice at a much-needed moment saves lives and, in case of milder afflictions, helps avoid a trip to the emergency Room.
Virtual services and at times physical products on e-commerce sites are frequently sold at discounted rates in all the above scenarios. Added to that inducement is the ease of being done with what is usually a tedious but essential chore.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), e-commerce has grown by over 70% in the US over the past three years and is expected to grow further. Soon, e-commerce will likely be around one-fifth of total retail sales in the US. Moreover, e-commerce and retail augment each other, with the NRF saying that opening a new store increases traffic on the website by an average of 37%. And retailers are evolving to support buying across channels with "buy online, pick up in-store" and offering “ship from store” facilities. This indicates that multi-channel capabilities are a must for all brands, including healthcare.
Omnichannel commerce is vital for every healthcare brand as it is the baseline that today's customer expects and is an essential part of a healthcare brand's journey to becoming a digitally enabled virtual commerce player. Cloud-based, AI-enabled sentient platforms that provide all the building blocks like conversational customer service and experience, cognitive automation that builds a digital workforce, predictive process monitoring to predict anomalies, and mining of data to provide actionable insights, are supporting e-commerce ventures in the healthcare sector.
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