About 8.5 lakh offline chemists’ livelihood is threatened in India with the ePharmacy coming in a big way
A dominant internet search engine, Google’s analytical platform Google Trends shows India is searching ‘online medicine apps’ more than other countries do. Following India, Pakistan, UAE and Nepal are the countries in the rank list who are searching the medicines and healthcare service platforms online.
Google Trends’ data shows, India is ranking among top five countries on most relevant search terms on online medical apps. Some commonly search terms used during goggling are ‘buy online medicine’, ‘medical app’, ‘Buy Medicines’ etc. The below screenshot shows interest over last 12 months for the search term ‘Online Medicine’ which clearly shows increasing demand of mHealth platforms.
Further on analyzing Indian states for the same search term, it is observed West Bengal, Haryana, Delhi, Jharkhand and Odisha have been the top five states where people have googled for online medicines and medical apps. The graph is scaled from 0 to 100. The graph does not represent actual number of searches, but sets the highest number in the series as 100 and then normalizes all other data in the series to this number.
With the increasing concern over lifestyle diseases and some specific virus, access to basic healthcare is becoming challenge because of inadequate infrastructure and resources, mainly due to lack of smart data management and logistics management. But on the other hand, the population is getting more tech-savvy and demanding convenient ways to receive healthcare services. The above statistics by Google trend help motivates all stakeholders in the Indian healthcare ecosystem to put an collective effort to achieve wider adoption of mHealth in India.
Some of the mHealth apps which are picking-up faster user-base are farseeing a huge benefits in future by 2025. These apps are Practo, 1MG, MeraPatient, MedPlus, Ask Apollo, PharmEasy etc have made a win-win business models and are helping users to save money from their health cost by providing discounts and best of the other offers and services.
Few weeks back I met a founder of MeraPatient App, he has a unique business model of safeguarding traditional chemists and Labs operators' market in India. As he said, the estimated size of Indian ePharmacy market is Rs. 1000 Cr. which is just 1% of traditional Indian Pharma market. It is estimated that by 2025 it may grow upto 10-15% of the total size. With this expected growth of ePharmacy or mHealth, the challenges in livelihood of 8.5 lakh offline chemists will also rise. His vision is to safeguard these offline chemist retailer market from the upcoming giant mHealth players. His model is an aggregator model, where in he is integrating all offline chemists and diagnostic lab operators on an app platform. The user can search nearly medical shop or diagnostic lab and see the pricing / rates for the medicines and tests he wants to buy. Nearby chemists ad lab operators at the same time receives the 'request to offer' price, free delivery, sample collection from home, discounts etc options. Patient or User can pick and choose the offer and get the medicines by a certified chemist and can get the tests done from a certified diagnostic labs.
The scope for adopting mHealth as an alternate healthcare solution is booming because 82% of internet users in India have said they cannot live without internet, as per the recent survey by Ipsos. The number of mobile internet users in India will hit 500 million by June and by 2020 and the country will have an estimated 702 million Smartphone users, said experts at the seventh edition of the India Internet Day, recently held in New Delhi.
The statics shows that more and more Indians are accessing the Internet and that too on their smart phones. This notable and gradual change in behavior is an important factor for mHealth adoption. Free of cost availability of mHealth apps have the potential to create a difference.