Healthcare services are increasingly using e-commerce platforms that allow them to offer innovative and cost-effective solutions for patients. We have collected examples of companies whose projects show the most important trends in this market. It might help you understand how healthcare e-commerce looks like right now and in what directions it may develop.
E-commerce digital health market
According to Growth+ Market Reports, the size of the healthcare e-commerce market in 2021 amounted to USD 340 billion. It is estimated that the CAGR in this sector will amount to 16.80%. This means that in 2030 it will be valued at almost USD 1,400 trillion.
The largest sector of e-commerce digital healthcare services is telemedicine. The size of this market was valued at USD 83.5 billion in 2022 globally. Its growth is projected to reach a CAGR of 24% from 2023 to 2030.
The patient-centered care approach of telemedicine digital platforms consists in facilitating patients’ access to health services. Customers can conveniently search for and select doctors, and can also connect with them via chat or video call. They can receive prescriptions remotely and have access to their health data stored on the digital platforms.
The development of the sector is influenced by the growing burden of so-called “diseases of civilization,” such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The growth of the telemedicine market was also driven by the arrival of the COVID-19 epidemic, when many healthcare companies preferred online contact with patients to avoid the possibility of infections.
Internet pharmacies are also an important part of the healthcare e-commerce market. Their revenue in 2022 is estimated at USD 27.2 billion. The estimated growth of the market in the period to 2027 will be 13.40%, when its value will amount to USD 52 trillion.
Patients willingly decide to buy medicines online because they can get them without leaving home (including medicines prescribed by a doctor—online pharmacies verify the prescriptions sent).
Such companies offer customers discounts and carry out promotional campaigns. Thanks to the scale of operations, lower fixed costs than traditional pharmacies and contracts with suppliers, they can offer attractive prices.
However, digital healthcare platforms are not limited to these two sectors. Below we have included examples of various others, including some of the more innovative solutions.
1. Online medical diagnostics platform: the case of the Polish company Diagnostyka
Diagnostyka is the largest Polish network of diagnostic laboratories (180) and examination material collection points (1100). Annually, it performs 120 million tests for 20 million patients. The company has expanded its activities with a digital healthcare platform where patients can purchase test packages and single tests. Vouchers are redeemed at collection points.
Examination packages account for 20 percent of all Diagnostyka’s sales. These are offers designed for diagnosing specific ranges of health problems (related to e.g., pancreas, liver, obesity, or rheumatism).
Diagnostyka Group also provides other medical services. The website Nowagenetyka.pl offers patients genetic tests to check their susceptibility to certain diseases by examining gene mutations. The Badania.pl platform makes it easier for doctors to order tests.
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2. Medistore—a health platform for making appointments with doctors
Medistore was created by Medicover, one of the biggest Polish healthcare companies. It is a patient-centered care platform that enables patients to make appointments with doctors within the Medicover network, as well as to purchase medical tests.
The patient can pay for a visit right away and take advantage of packages that include consultations and examinations in the relevant areas of health. These are, for example, sports, dietary, or genetic tests. Convenient grouping of services in the Health Review section allows patients to systematically check their health condition. This is helpful in disease prevention.
On Medistore, customers can also buy dietary supplements sold under the company’s own brand. There are also packages of aesthetic medicine treatments, and psychotherapy and psychological consultations or rehabilitation.
3. Practo—complex digital health services
India-based company Practo is a healthcare company that facilitates online virtual visits with doctors and arranges in-person consultations. The digital platform works with about 100,000 doctors. Patients can download a mobile app that allows them to use the website’s functionality and store their health data.
Practo is also an online pharmacy and meds are delivered directly to patients. Using the digital platform, patients can also buy prescription drugs after sending a scan of a prescription. Scans are verified by the company’s pharmacists and only after successful verification are the pharmaceutics sent to patients.
One way Practo earns money is by selling SaaS software, Practo Ray. This is an additional service aimed at helping doctors and healthcare providers manage their businesses (e.g., accepting patient bookings and payments or storing medical records).
Practo was distinguished by an inventive and witty advertising campaign, which the company conducted mainly using social media. This is an example of how methods commonly used by online stores can be used by a healthcare provider (Practo case study).
4. GoodRX—digital platform directing patients to the cheapest pharmacies
GoodRX is a US drug price comparison site covering 70,000 pharmacies in the United States. The platform is available to patients via a website and a mobile application. According to the company’s claims, users can save 80% on the purchase of drugs.
The savings come from the fact that prices are not regulated or fixed (as some patients might think) but vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. The solution also allows patients to find pharmacies with membership programs and informs them about manufacturers’ special offers.
GoodRX has also created the Provider Mode platform, which enables healthcare providers to view information on pharmaceutical costs during visits. Thanks to this, staff can show patients where they can buy the cheapest prescribed drugs in the area. It is also possible to compare the prices of their substitutes.
The company estimated that about 20% to 30% of prescriptions are left unfilled in the pharmacy because of drug costs. Thanks to the platform, this number could decrease significantly. GoodRX also plans to establish cooperation with pharmaceutical companies so that medical staff can inform patients about new therapies and programs.
5. MediBid—healthcare services marketplace
MediBid is a US digital healthcare platform directing patients to healthcare providers who are willing to offer discounted prices for their services. Doctors, after buying a subscription, can create profiles along with information about their experience and certificates. Platform users send a request for the procedure they want to have performed and receive offers from doctors.
In the United States, MediBid is used by patients for whom insurance companies have refused to finance treatments. Thanks to the platform, they have the chance to make significant savings and healthcare providers can present their offers and gain customers.
Patients can also establish direct telephone or Skype contact with doctors before deciding about the procedure. They can also learn about the conditions offered by hospitals where they will have to undergo recovery. The demand for the MediBid service is related to the phenomenon of the medical tourism market, which results from the rising prices of health services in the USA.
6. MDSave—digital health platform for comparing services
MDSave is a US patient-centered platform thanks to which patients can save on medical procedures. The service allows them to compare healthcare providers’ offers to find the best deal. Treatments are paid for in advance and carried out based on coupons. The company claims that patients will pay up to 50% less for health services.
The benefits for users include the fact that healthcare companies publish the overall price of the service. Patients will not incur any additional costs, e.g., related to tests or hospitalization.
MDSave is also used by companies that finance the healthcare of their employees themselves. This allows them to make significant savings, especially since MDSave itself negotiates contracts with healthcare providers.
7. HealthWarehouse.com—online pharmacy platform with advice
HealthWarehouse.com is one of America’s largest online pharmacies. It provides FDA-approved prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, and veterinary medicines. The company employs a team of qualified pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that offer customers professional advice.
Pharmacy customers have a chance to save when purchasing medications from HealthWarehouse.com because the company incurs lower operating costs than traditional pharmacies. The company also orders drugs directly from manufacturers, so it can afford lower margins.
Digital healthcare platforms—e-commerce rules matter
Because e-commerce platforms are already commonplace for consumers, they are used to easily access to products and services. Healthcare providers have recognized this and have widely started selling online. Medical services are becoming commercial products like any other, and now it is much easier for customers to buy and compare them.
This introduces an additional element of competitiveness on the market, allowing patients to save money. This is significant, especially in the USA, where there is a serious problem with high and constantly increasing prices of health services.
To be successful, healthcare e-commerce platforms must follow the rules that apply to all online shops. UX design is essential. For example, customer journeys should be carefully mapped, so the patient can quickly achieve their goal—e.g., making a purchase, making an appointment, or comparing offers.
To create and refine an e-commerce platform, it is also necessary to conduct in-depth user research. This makes it possible to check whether the use of the product is intuitive and the customer will easily achieve their goal. Research is also an opportunity to test the effectiveness of various solutions to choose the best ones.
The basic e-commerce measures also need to be used. Attention should be paid to SEO, content and social media marketing, and optimized SEM campaigns. It is important to carefully monitor and optimize Key Effectiveness Indicators (KEI) to achieve the highest possible growth of companies. One such indicator is the cart abandonment rate, indicating the percentage of customers who did not complete a transaction. There is also a need to track the conversion rate to know if the platform traffic results in the optimal number of purchases made.
Healthcare digital platforms that implement good practices tested over the years in the e-commerce industry have a chance to open up new possibilities for patients to conveniently use healthcare services and pay less for them. In this way, the industry will change significantly, and it seems, for the better.