With digitalization in healthcare, the prospects that we couldn’t imagine are now becoming our reality. Devices are monitoring our heart rate, and doctors and patients are able to connect without being physically present at the same place. But as the awareness and accessibility increases, so do the challenges such as cybersecurity, costs, and so much more.
Also while referring to medical e-commerce, we refer to something beyond selling pharmaceutical or medical products. We speak of the application of e-commerce to the current hospital systems.
Having said that, let’s begin by discussing the prospects of healthcare.
Digital Healthcare = Amplified Health Awareness
- Digital healthcare connects doctors and patients like never before – being in the same physical space is no longer a necessity.
- It also connects patients all across the globe. But how does that benefit us? Let’s acknowledge this – in today’s day and age if we feel any kind of dis-ease in our bodies, we tend to consult the digital space (the internet) before going to a real doctor. People read health stories of real people, not only to gain information but also inspiration (to maintain a better lifestyle, for example).
- Digital healthcare benefits by making individuals aware of prevention and treatment options that are well within their scope.
- But the internet is not biased to connect patients, it also connects doctors that are way beyond each other’s physical reach. It makes it possible for them to come up with innovations that would not have been born without the internet. Such collaborations help patients and doctors alike – through time and efforts cut down, improved medical facility, and enhanced accessibility.
- As mentioned, digital platforms not only generate information but also save your time and efforts when it comes to finding specialists. The dedicated healthcare portals make individuals aware of the specialists within their reach.
- These portals can also be leveraged to create a culture of transparency between patients and doctors as patients can leave honest feedback.
- Speaking of digitized healthcare awareness, we cannot miss out on our collective recent achievements. As a society, we are striving to move towards healthier lifestyles. And where this inspiration comes from no longer remains a secret – our mobile apps!
- Mobile apps are always up to tell count the calories you consumed, a number of steps you walk, your hydration level, heart rate, and so much more.
Challenges for health sector adaptation to e-commerce technology
E-commerce has progressed incredibly in the past few years. And while the trend has seeped to all corners of our society and across all industries, healthcare is yet to fully adopt it.
Also, healthcare is a highly sensitive arena and thus the process to bring it on digital systems requires gigantic resources, huge investments and a certain degree of risk.
Here are the real challenges –
- While we browse through tons of medical information on the internet, the real challenge is understanding that not all of it is true. Because otherwise, misunderstandings can happen, people can frequently adopt self-treatment, and that can lead to unwarranted situations.
- India, as a society, trusts the word of mouth more than any digital platform especially when it comes to healthcare. And thus getting people trust the internet more and access and explore it 360 degrees for medical products and services still remains a fine challenge.
- A large part of our society is not tech-savvy. Not only that, people in the remotest parts of rural India, do not even have the privilege to own an internet connection let alone accessing medical e-commerce.
- And if we manage to get through all of it, there are cybersecurity issues to daunt us. Healthcare is known to have sensitive and confidential data of patients. Bringing it all online can be done only when there are enough ways to insulate the systems against all sorts of cybercrimes.
- Healthcare practices are still too stringent. And it can get difficult to convince professionals to leverage digital systems. Thus there’s a need to continuously prove its worth and competency.
- Healthcare services can never be independent of time. Where each second is crucial, can medical e-commerce commit its efficiency to be available as and when patients need it?
Challenges for e-commerce technology adaptation to the nature of the health service
- The challenge majorly arises because conventional B2C models are not applicable when it comes to doctors and patients.
- Why? Because the relationship between doctors and patients is complicated and requires a high degree of sensitivity, confidentiality, and trust than a regular brand-customer relationship.
- Customer (read: patient) support still remains a challenge. All patients require detailed analysis even on telephonic consultations and that not only eats up time but also ends up increasing costs which could be saved through physical consultation.
- If there’s a huge volume of patients for doctors to handle, they can end up giving generalised advice which is not what we expect out of healthcare. Because all patients all want their consultations to be understanding, sensitive, and intimate.
- Users are still not aware of the facilities and very few actually avail them. Not understanding the intricacies, the newness of the platform, and fear of change discourages them from trying e-commerce.
Positive effects and new demands
It is not fair to mention the challenges without discussing the positive changes and new demands that bring hope to the industry.
- Virtual consultation has now become a reality. It not only saves time and costs but also adds to the patient’s experience and convenience.
- Patient’s can now book appointments with the specialists online to avoid long waiting lines. They can also review records without the stress of managing papers, and quickly explore and change doctors.
- Through prior appointments on health portals, the quality of medical facilities drastically enhances. As now healthcare centres are prepared for the influx of patients so they can make all necessary arrangements and equip themselves to serve the patients.
- This is especially beneficial for elderly patients as it is not feasible for them to not feasible to run for regular checkups and appointments.
- There’s added transparency as all the information about the doctor is available to the patient with reviews on healthcare portals.
As we speak of prospects and challenges, what never ceases in the healthcare industry is – developments. And as long as the healthcare moves in the same direction as it is now, soon the solutions to these challenges will turn into possibilities, and finally to reality.