Akasht Nayyar, CEO Truemeds, shares How E-Pharmacies are Reshaping Medication Habits

Imagine a world where a few taps on your smartphone help you manage your health. Online or e-pharmacies are making this dream a reality by reshaping how we approach and understand our health and medication habits. These online platforms are more than just convenient storefronts — they are leading a revolution in healthcare accessibility and consumer education.

Gone are the days when consumers blindly followed medications based on prescriptions, with little knowledge or control over the process. Thanks to the wealth of information available online, from blogs to review platforms, we are far more aware now of our rights as consumers and are making informed choices about everything - from the food we eat to the skincare products we use. A recently found study by Bain & Co. on Asia-Pacific Front Line of Healthcare 2024 also states that Healthcare is no longer a passive experience: Consumers are taking charge of their health, are demanding a better experience, and are willing to invest in wellness.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for this shift, forcing people to embrace e-commerce and online services out of sheer necessity. Even in smaller cities and suburbs, where the adoption of e-commerce might have otherwise been slower, the pandemic drove people to explore online shopping for essentials, including medicines. This shift towards e-pharmacies has continued to spike as these platforms bridge the gap in accessible and affordable healthcare. 

In fact, the Bain & Co. study also found that consumers desire a single touchpoint to manage their health and are increasingly placing high trust in primary care providers and other alternative sites of care like pharmacies and digital health. While face-to-face interactions are more commonly preferred, the pandemic has increased acceptance of virtual touchpoints. 

In India alone, there are over 50 e-pharmacy startups, serving around 5 million users every month with reasonably priced, high-quality medicines. The growth is fueled by rising education levels, increased consumer rights awareness, higher disposable incomes, and urbanization-driven lifestyle changes. Key to this is digital inclusion, as the internet and smartphones have reached a significant portion of the population. 

Why are e-pharmacies trending?

In today's fast-paced world, the hassle of traditional medication procurement processes—from scheduling appointments to purchasing medicines—is becoming increasingly unappealing. 

The biggest draw of e-pharmacies lies in the convenience they offer. One can easily track past orders, further helping them to take control of their healthcare needs from the comfort of their homes. Hence, offering “one-stop shop” solutions for all their needs, leveraging tech capabilities for better patient engagement. Pricing information is readily available on their platforms, and customers can compare options and choose the most affordable solutions for their prescription needs. This newfound transparency helps users make informed decisions and access the best deals. The survey also stated that telehealth led to major saving of healthcare costs due to the early triage and steerage care coupled with the low price point and pharmacy attach rate for teleconsultation compared to in-person primary consultation.

Future outlook

As the Indian government continues to push for digital transformation in the healthcare sector, e-pharmacies are likely to receive more support and recognition in the future

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