During the pandemic, e-pharmacies and online consultation platforms turned out to be lucrative businesses within health tech, which also includes at-home diagnostics, fitness and nutrition platforms, disease management and employee wellness services.
Devlina Rishav Bose, 26, was living with her parents in Kolkata when COVID-19 struck India in 2020. In the initial days of the pandemic, Bose would visit local pharmacies to buy regular medicines for her family.
As the city locked down, she and her family isolated themselves in their home to stay safe.
“As the peak approached, I would call a nearby pharmacy and ask them to deliver medicines. But because of increasing demand, they hardly had the products I asked for or the staff to get them delivered to me,” she recalls.
Bose and her parents then turned to online solutions, ordering medicines from e-pharmacies and, unable to meet their trusted family physician, consulting doctors on the internet.
Moving back to offline healthcare
That technology boost to e-pharmacies and online medical consultants is being eroded as the pandemic effect starts wearing off and people move back to physical pharmacies, trusted clinics, and hospitals.
Take Bose, for instance. Now that she is no longer confined at home, she picks up regular medicines for herself and her family from a local pharmacist on her way home.
“It saves me time as I have them in my hand instantly. Moreover, the pharmacy I go to offers me good discounts on bulk orders when I want to stock up on regular medicines once a month, and for smaller orders of Rs. 10 to 20, I don’t see any point in ordering online,” she said.