Post COVID-19 ERA: Change in Consumer Trends in Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Sector
In recent years, the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector has been transforming at a larger pace than any other Industry. Changing consumer trends, Burden of diseases, lifestyle of consumers are some of the factors that have influenced this transformation. Introduction of Artificial Intelligence, Voice Assistants and other New Technologies has changed the perception of people regarding Healthcare. However, the advent and gradual widespread of the COVID-19 on a pandemic level has not only challenged the consumer’s sense of well being but has also brought the healthcare system across the globe upside down. The current situation has put a significant impact on how consumers are considering and interacting with the healthcare system.
CHANGE IN CONSUMER TRENDS DURING COVID-19:
- Consumer Trends have tremendously changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare and Pharmaceutical industry was the one that has experienced the growth in service utilization but at the same time had to evolve to provide services according to consumer satisfaction. COVID-19 has introduced a word called “VIRTUAL” in everyone’s life. Amid lockdown when everyone was restricted to their homes, the consumers started preferring “Virtual consultations or Virtual services”. This change resulted in increased use of Telemedicine all over India. From Diagnosis to consultations people were able to get the services at their homes.
- COVID-19 also increased awareness among people regarding Healthcare. Before visiting the doctor, now patients prefer to get the knowledge regarding their health issues first, so that they can communicate with the doctor effectively. Consumers have become vocal regarding the healthcare services they are using and regarding the health issues they are facing. This has decreased the gap of patient expectations and the services being provided to them.
- Consumer approach towards using the healthcare facilities has been changed due to COVID-19. Self- awareness has been increased among people and change in lifestyle when everything has to be done while sitting at homes, has changed the scope of healthcare from treatment services to preventive services. Laboratories have experienced a surge in COVID antibody test rather than getting a COVID test done after the symptoms have occurred. Also, there has been a surge in demand for Preventive Health check ups such as Cholesterol tests, Diabetes and Thyroid Tests etc.
- Both doctors and patients have realized that the need of each patient is different. One medicine can suit one person but might not be suitable for another. This has led to an increase in customization of treatment for every patient.
- People have more knowledge regarding the prices of the services and prefer taking the services at optimum rates. This has not only increased the competition among manufacturers and service providers but also has enhanced the quality of services being provided. Diagnostic service providers have started coming up with preventive health check up packages at competitive rates.
- Use of Mobile apps has been increased for monitoring the health, for keeping a check on diets, for noting the time of exercises which means people are moving towards the concept of M-Health. Increase in Home Deliveries through apps such as Netmeds has been increased. Practo is being used for online consultations and people are starting up their business of making Healthcare apps for providing virtual consultations.
- a move closer to Ayurveda and “Vocal for Local”. Consumer preferences have turned on from Allopathy to Ayurveda. People have started taking Ayurvedic Immune Boosters to prevent the infection. People have disbanded the use of foreign products and have started using products being manufactured in the Indian market. Focus of people has now shifted to being fit and healthy. This has not only promoted Yoga but also has increased the market share for Health and Wellness centers. These centers are now also providing virtual exercise training sessions at discounted rates.
The Deloitte 2020 survey of US health care consumers reflects upon how consumer’s perspective or how the trend has changed due to COVID-19. The survey states that- Consumers have started showing agency and engagement which means that they have started being transparent to doctors whether they agree or disagree to them. Patients are analyzing the information and data available online before visiting for treatment. It has also been found that consumers are using virtual visits more. In April 2020 the consumers using virtual visits increased to 28% from 19% in early January. Consumers have also become vocal about their health issues and are willing to share their data in order to get better treatment and services. Consumers have switched on to the M-Health (Mobile Health) mode where they monitor their health continuously through the apps and measure their fitness.
The changing consumer trends has provided an opportunity for the new startups to shine. Since, it is difficult for people to access the markets, so organizations have to put more work in framing the strategies in which they can provide the best services to the consumers at their homes i.e. Healthcare at Home. Companies should focus on research and development in order to cater new demands of people in an innovative way. Companies should shift their focus to patient centered approach and also develop strategies for increasing their marketing and sales. Chatbots for providing assistance to the patients have been adopted by many organizations and this can be used to develop the relationship of trust between the provider and consumer. Healthcare setups and Pharmaceutical companies can enter into joint ventures with IT companies in order to create a product mix which focuses on the consumer needs.
Companies and industries have to evolve with the needs of consumers for prevailing in the market and therefore Analyzing the change in consumer trends becomes an important part for survival in the industry.
Disposible gloves, face mask, ventilator, medical alcohol cleaners (Senitizers) got boom. Manufacturer & logistc supplier also got overwhelmed work.Production is expected to recover quickly as the government is extending support for essential commodities. Businesses have started resuming operation in China, which accounts for around 85% of India’s active pharmaceutical ingredients imports. This alleviates the supply chain disruptions, though not by a great extent. As per sector nature, it can recover in short period.