The digitalization of many services has been growing rapidly over the past couple of years. This also includes the purchase of medicine and medical equipment online. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs have been ordered more and more frequently online in recent years.
According to a representative survey of 1,157 people in Germany aged 16 and over on behalf of the digital association Bitkom, almost one in four fills out prescriptions at online pharmacies and 61% buy medicine without a prescription. Around 15% of non-prescription drugs were also ordered from other online retailers such as Amazon, leading to the online giant now considering entering the European pharmacy market with its own mail-order pharmacy, as it has already done in the USA with Amazon Pharmacy.
Generally speaking, sales of shop pharmacies grew by around 38% last year and the online market share for non-prescription drugs increased up to 16-20%. As a result, the proportion of prescription drugs sold by online pharmacies is expected to continue to rise rapidly.
The online offerings are becoming increasingly attractive due to the low density of pharmacies, which in Germany is far below the European average with 23 stores per 100,000 inhabitants. Furthermore, gaps in the provision of services in the rural region and for people with reduced mobility are being closed. The resulting competition is to be kept to a minimum by stationary and online retailers co-operating, e. g. by delivering to nearby stores.
However, one disadvantage of buying medicines online is the lack of advice and information. Customer satisfaction is only at 44% and dissatisfaction is at 30%. This could soon change with the introduction of e-recipes, as these prescriptions can be transmitted digitally and thus conveniently forwarded to the online pharmacy. Both the issuing of the prescription by the doctor and the subsequent advice of the pharmacist are now offered via video consultation. This ensures a detailed personal consultation and avoids disadvantages such as long travel and waiting times, the risk of infection, and the inaccessibility of stationary practices and pharmacies.
Technical know-how will play only a small role, considering that 80% of 16-49-year-olds, 66% of 50-64-year-olds, and a proud 41% of over 60-year-olds buy their medicines online. With simple 1-click video consulting solutions, such as the widget from CALLSTR, digital barriers can be further reduced.
CALLSTR is a browser-based software that can be easily integrated into any website and allows website visitors to start a video consultation with a single click via a widget. Customer requests can be processed quickly and efficiently, and the personal contact promotes the user experience and thus customer satisfaction, trust, and loyalty. CALLSTR distinguishes itself by a particularly user-friendly operation. No software download or registration is required for the website visitors.
Linking traditional distribution channels with new digital channels is becoming increasingly relevant in the healthcare sector. We will keep an eye on the resulting trends and share the latest findings with you on our blog and social media channels!