With 14 years of professional experience in Public Relations & Marketing, Anindita comes with a deep understanding of the dynamic media and communication landscape in India. Through her successful stint with reputed PR agencies like Genesis Burson & Marsteller, Percept Profile and Mileage Communications and many more, she has worked closely with clients across verticals, such as travel, hospitality, F&B, fashion & lifestyle, entertainment, IT and corporate.
A few months ago, nobody knew about COVID-19 but now the novel coronavirus has become the silent villain and dread for the global population. Apart from hampering economies and bringing about unprecedented damage in personal and professional lives, the pandemic has also disrupted our very way of living, forcing us to come to terms with a new normal. One of the key aspects of the new normal is the increased technology adoption across sectors, including education, retail, banking and finance and even healthcare. Health technology in general and e-pharmacies in particular, have played a vital role in the past few months, in helping non-COVID patients gain timely access to quality medical care. While hospital staff, OT’s, ICU’s and ambulances were busy catering to the surge of COVID patients, the online health care ecosystem was silently lending its support to those in need of Non-COVID medical attention. As a result, the segment has rapidly evolved and online consultations and e-pharmacies, in particular, are becoming the pillars of health tech.
As per the ‘Outlook of India’s Healthcare Industry, 2020’ report by Markets and research Network, India’s health tech market is currently valued at USD 450.1 Million in 2020 and is set to grow at a CAGR of 21%, till 2026. Government initiatives like the National Health Portal, online registration system, e-Hospital, etc. are expected to increase preference and adoption of e-Healthcare models among masses. Supported mainly by the increasing rise of smartphones and internet penetration as well as by supportive initiatives like Ayushman Bharat, National Health portal and online registration of e-hospitals etc. Further, according to a recent report by Frost & Sullivan, the e-pharmacy market in India is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 63% to reach USD 3,657 Mn by 2022, being strengthened by the increasing reach of eCommerce and a growing population resorting to online purchases.
In spite of these opportunities, the sector is grappling with challenges that are hampering its growth momentum. Although it has been a few years since the introduction of ePharmacy and an overall introduction to health tech and online consultations in India, it is mostly popular among the tech-savvy millennial population while the general public at large, still do not have an apparent understanding of it or are still apprehensive to experience it.
Integrated marketing and communication tools such as PR can help e-pharmacies and online health tech brands overcome such challenges with strategic planning and communication. As is the case in healthcare, trust and credibility are of key essence and that is exactly what PR can help build for these brands. Some key aspects where PR can help, include:
- Creating Awareness: While the pandemic has made most of the consumers resort to online purchases, there is little awareness about accessing healthcare as a service, online. Effective PR and integrated communication outreach can help create this awareness through the use of online (like FB) and traditional media (Newspapers) outreach, to spread awareness among target audiences, including senior citizens who need this service the most.
- Education the masses: Apart from being aware, people also need to have a deeper understanding of how it works and what they can expect. An educative approach to this can further help brands to not only reach out and engage with consumers but also gain insights and feedback into user experience so as to better enhance the product.
- Building credibility: This is one of the most vital aspects when it comes to e-pharmacies/ health tech. right from credibility and genuineness of doctors to the authenticity of medications and treatment plans shared online, everything can look sceptical to a first time user. By offering transparent dealings, extensive product information and value-added services like the background of consulting doctors, options for second opinions etc., can all go a long way in helping a brand-building trust among the consumers. And effective PR and communication outreach can further help the brand to leverage this.
- Creating thought leadership: Lastly, through larger industry stories and opinion pieces, profiling of brand spokesperson and creating a larger category building activity through integrated communication, PR can help brands drive thought leadership and create a positive brand image.
Appearance is everything, at least that’s how the saying goes, and for ePharma companies maintaining a positive and trustworthy reputation isn’t always easy. Crisis and glitches are a part of the process. However, a long term and dedicated PR outreach directed towards consumers is proficient at patient engagement and helps boost corporate value. In times like these, with the pandemic still hovering, effective and timely adoption of health tech can be a game-changer in managing the pandemic and offering non-COVID patients as the real pillar of support.