e-Pharmacies are a critical cog in achieving the Indian government’s National Digital Health Mission
Digital Health Platforms, an umbrella organization of various companies operating in the digital health space in India, specifically in the e-Pharmacy sector, recently organized a webinar on E-Commerce in Pharmaceuticals: An Emerging Segment of Business for pharmacy students. The event was held in partnership with the Ram-Eesh Institute of Voc and Tech Education. Among other things, the event focused on the need for a modern, technology driven and consumer-centric pharmaceutical sector in India and the need for a retail revolution in the segment.
Some of the pertinent issues discussed included opportunities for budding pharmacists in the sector; role of technology (automation, AI and machine learning) in retail sales of medicines; how pharmacists can leverage technology to create an impact in patient management; and how technology is improving access, affordability and traceability of medicines. Technology can be used to improve workflows, increase patient safety, simplify patient education and improve drug adherence.
Speaking at the webinar, Dr Jainendra Jain Principal, Ram-Eesh Institute of Voc and Tech Education said, “There is an urgent need for a future ready digital health system in India, something that has become even more evident in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic. A strong health system must have a strong digital backbone and, in this light, e-Pharmacies have the potential to augment universal health coverage and can be a game changer in digital health era.”
Adding further, Dr Varun Gupta, Convenor Digital Health Platforms said, “With new technologies, it is possible to bring in immense opportunities for budding pharmacists. Technology can be leveraged to make a huge impact on patient education, overall compliance and healthcare outcomes.”
Dr Rajiv Gulati, Former President, Ranbaxy; President on the Board of Several Reputed Companies, added, “More than half of India’s population doesn’t have access to health care. e-Pharmacy adds immense value by improving accessibility and affordability of quality medicines because it is more convenient and every batch no of medicines can be easily tracked. It opens up newer job and growth opportunities for the pharmacy students. It adds value for the patients and society at large”.
e-Pharmacy technology can create a positive impact on the entire ecosystem. Some of the ways it can do this are given below.
- As per NITI Aayog’s report called ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, e-Pharmacy is critical and important for Universal Health Coverage in India.
- As per FICCI report 2020, there has been a shift in demand towards for at-home access to medicines during the COVID 19 pandemic. There was approximately 2.5x growth (about 8.8 million) in the number of households using e-Pharmacy services in the COVID-19 lockdown period. There was a higher representation from the non-metro cities, compared to pre-COVID-19 households.
- Another report by the CCI 2018 called “Making markets work for affordable healthcare” noted that e-Pharmacy can bring more transparency and affordability