ePharmacy: Making Procurement of Medications Easy
ePharmacy is a branch of pharmacy that works digitally to sell drugs, medicines, and other healthcare products to customers. ePharmacy is commonly known as an online pharmacy. The Internet has made it easy and convenient for customers to purchase medicines from online pharmacies. These pharmacies take online orders from customers and deliver them at the doorsteps of customers. The on-the-doorstep facility has increased the customer base of ePharmacies. The trend of online pharmacy and the selling of drugs online has been followed for two decades.
The ePharmacy system aims to speed up the delivery process of medicines to patients in a secured manner that ensures pharmacological safety and high efficiency. Different types of companies or hospitals that fall under the category of ePharmacy are electronic subsidiaries of “brick-and-mortar” hospitals, platforms serving pharmacy companies, and independent internet-only outlets.
It has been witnessed that there is a sharp rise in e-commerce activities like selling of non-prescribed & prescribed medicines & drugs and online shopping. Moreover, with the help of prescription or e-prescription from a registered medical practitioner, patients can order the medicines using the internet and their order will be delivered at their doorsteps.
Steps involved in the working of ePharmacy model:
- Customers upload a scanned copy of their prescription through an application like smartphones or tablets and place an order for desired medicines.
- A team of registered pharmacists verifies and check each and every order.
- The validated prescriptions are forwarded to the nearby pharmacy store that will dispense the order within the estimated time.
- The order is then received by the pharmacy store web or mobile-based platform that is governed under the IT Act 2000 that facilitates the connection between the pharmacy store and customer.
Advantages of ePharmacy:
- Offer low-cost medicines/products: Customers may find the shopping of drugs and medicines inexpensive through online pharmacies. As per the conducted surveys by research bodies, it states that customers can save upto one-third of the price on online shopping of medicines. Also, these pharmacies provide extra offers to their customers to gain their attention.
- Saves time: Purchasing medicines and other healthcare products through digital platforms helps in saving the customer’s time. while shopping through an online pharmacy, the customer is not needed to visit the pharmacy and stand in queues. The order of medicine can be placed anytime and from any place. And the medicines will get delivered to the doorstep of the customer.
- Provide privacy & confidentiality: Some of the customers are shy in nature or introverts. They usually feel embarrassed while briefing their problem. This approach is very much helpful for such customers. They can even purchase some of the products without a prescription. These pharmacies also ensure that the confidential data provided at the time of booking an order to be kept secured.
- Availability of a wide range of brands: Online pharmacies in comparison to traditional pharmacies consist of more number of brands of the same compositions. Moreover, the medicines are available in stocks and also comprise a large number of substitute products. This kind of huge variety is not available at traditional stores, thus the demand for online pharmacy is increasing.
- Offers easy & secured transactions: At the time of payment, customers provide their confidential data like phone number, home address, atm card number, and others. The online pharmacies provide safe transactions and keep the confidential data in an encrypted form so that no other person can take advantage of it.
Disadvantages of ePharmacy:
- The advent of illegal ePharmacy: In recent times, many pharmacies have transformed into online pharmacies. During this transformation, several pharmacies have developed without getting approval from the regulatory bodies. Moreover, they sell medicines that are not approved for sale.
- The dearth of physical evaluation: With the ease of providing medicines at the doorstep with safety, the patients are not able to have a face-to-face interaction with the physicians. That may hinder the process of diagnosing the problem. In addition, at the time of placing an order, customers do not know whether the prescribed medicine is available or not, which may later create a problem for the customer.
- Lack of surety among customers: Many times, customers suffering from minor illnesses like headache, flu, fever, or viral disease, order medicines just by telling the symptoms. In some pharmacies, the pharmacists are not well skilled and provide medicine to the customer based on their basic knowledge, this can cause harm to the health of the patient.
- Self-diagnosing: The customers face an issue when they have to diagnose their own problem and then order the medicine online without a prescription. The medicines that are taken without any prescription by the customer, there are high chances that the customer may have side effects of the medicine or may lead to other health problems.
ePharmacy is the easiest and convenient way to the procurement of medicines and other healthcare products for customers. The increase in the penetration of the internet coupled with a growing number of internet users is driving the growth of this market. Moreover, the growing awareness about online pharmacy and the increasing number of government initiatives are further witnessed to boost the market growth.
The ePharmacy is focusing on increasing its customer base by providing medicines and other products at low prices and offers to their existing customers to surge the sales of the products. Moreover, the negative impact of the COVID-19 has surged the online sales as people were avoiding moving out in order to prevent themselves from getting infected from the coronavirus.
The Global ePharmacy Market is estimated to rise at a market growth of 16.4% CAGR during the forecast period.