stethoscope and phone

Big tech and the future of healthcare commerce

The new commerce opportunities healthcare can provide

The pandemic has had a huge influence on the adoption of digital healthcare technology. A recent US Monitor report shows that 83% of US adults believe that, by 2025, telemedicine will become a common way people see their doctors for routine healthcare.

As the $3.6 billion US healthcare industry transforms into a digital-first care experience, the country’s largest technology firms have focused on facilitating the consumer health experience.

Amazon – the company launched Amazon Pharmacy in November 2020. Prime prescription gives members free two-day delivery of orders, and savings of up to 80% on generic medications and 40% on branded medications when not paying using insurance. It is rumoured that Amazon will expand its primary-care pilot – Amazon Care – to companies looking to decrease the cost of employee healthcare.

Google – seven percent of Google’s daily searches are health related, according to Google Health, with over 70,000 search queries every minute. CNBC has said that Google is focused on leveraging its “core expertise in search” with input from healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health-related search results for consumers across Google and YouTube. 

Apple – Apple launched an internal pilot project in 2019 called AC Wellness, which is a brick-and-mortar health clinic for its employees. The clinic includes nutritionists, care navigators, sleep and exercise specialists, nurse practitioners and more. It has been reported that this project is being tested before being rolled out nationally as a new holistic primary-care experience.

These advancements in technology are creating new commerce opportunities for retailers to reach and market to patients as shoppers. Repositioning retail as a healthcare channel, if embraced it offers those retailers with pharmacies or e-pharmacies an opportunity to become the new front door to consumer health.

According to MarketWatch, the global e-pharmacy market stood at $29 billion pre-COVID and was projected to grow to $117 billion by 2025. This growing importance of technology in health and wellness decision-making has created new brand-marketing touchpoints, routes to the consumer, competition, and access to care across retailers.

Customer touchpoints

In January 2020, Walgreens teamed up with Microsoft to launch Health Corners at 12 pharmacies in Tennessee. Microsoft manages data storage for Walgreens, which also leverages Microsoft’s AI platform and retail solutions. According to Jared Josleyn, vice president of innovation at Walgreens, after the Health Corners launch, Microsoft will help analyse visits to develop a model that works best for Walgreens’ customers.

Routes to the consumer

The impact of the pandemic on vaccine management has opened the door to new marketing opportunities. Using vaccine foot-traffic dashboards, brand partners are now gaining insight into consumers’ movements in and around vaccination locations. This information is being used to fuel targeted out-of-home (OOH) and digital out-of-home (DOOH) campaigns, designed to engage consumers on an intimate level.


Dollar General has recently partnered with Higi, a medical-technology company that creates health-station kiosks, to offer affordable medications from a certified US-based pharmacy, delivered straight to a shopper’s home for free. This means that Dollar General shoppers can save up to 80% on many common prescriptions and even receive money off online orders. This new e-pharmacy platform now provides CPG brands with access to HIPAA-compliant data in order to target patients as shoppers.

Access to care

Walmart recently acquired a technology platform to enhance its digital health and wellness capabilities. CareZone offers a worry-free way for consumers to organise health information and access vital health services. Some industry experts predict that Walmart’s access to vast amounts of consumer healthcare data, and its expansive network of brick-and-mortar stores coupled with the addition of CareZone, may put it one step ahead of Amazon in terms of targeting chronic-condition shoppers with low-cost health solutions.

With the increased demands for personalised consumer health solutions, VLMY&R predicts a digital future that redefines the patients journey across a unified commerce experience.

The way forward for all retail partners is applying the right content and customer experience to every commercial health and wellness interaction. This requires new capabilities and reimagining of commerce across retail and brand ecosystems.

Reimagine your commerce strategy: accelerate the development and implementation of strong category and brand positioning, which differentiate a brand and drives sustainable growth.

Change your route to the consumer: drive brand availability, visibility, and recommendation wherever and whenever your consumer considers a healthcare omni-channel shoppable purchase.

Transform your commerce ecosystem: optimise the consumer experience by connecting with them across the entire purchase journey, maximising the impact of your activation campaigns.

Rethink your capabilities: develop the optimal structure and capabilities to unlock the healthcare commerce category or retailer growth.

Read more on 

Brian Owens

VMLY&R Commerce

published on

16 July 2021


Experience Commerce Technology & innovation

Related Topics

Ecommerce Health & wellness Healthcare & Pharma Tech & Digital Services

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