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As Amazon enters market, patients, physicians hopeful for health care disruption

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NEW YORK —  Amazon’s announced acquisition of PillPack gives the tech giant a vehicle for disrupting the U.S. drug distribution market – and may come with a beneficial side-effect for pharma.

Amazon will find substantial reception for its Rx distribution services among U.S. patients and physicians. Per DRG Digital | Manhattan Research 2018 study data, based on surveys of 3,084 patients and 2,724 physicians:

  • 43% of physicians say Amazon will have a big impact on U.S. healthcare, with 61% saying it could help to reduce medication costs
  • More than half of U.S. physicians say they would trust Amazon as a drug distributor.
  • 45% of patients say tech companies will have an impact on U.S. healthcare in the coming years, and more than one-third of patients are interested in receiving medications from tech companies, with 20% interested in receiving medications from Amazon, specifically.

The opportunity for Amazon to improve medication adherence is notable – and won’t be lost on pharmas seeking innovative platforms from which to deliver their patient support programs:

  • Convenience is a factor for non-adherent patients – 34% say they are more likely to get prescriptions filled or refilled on time if they’re delivered to their homes, compared to 25% of adherent patients.
  • 27% of U.S. physicians agree that Amazon could help healthcare professionals by improving adherence.

However, Amazon will have to overcome some doubts among patients weighing tradeoffs of cost and access over privacy concerns:

  • 41% of patients say they would trust their local pharmacy more than they would Amazon for filling prescriptions.
  • 38% worry how tech companies will use their personal health info if given access to it.

“Patients and providers alike have had it with medical sticker shock and the hassle factor in American healthcare,” said DRG Digital principal analyst Matthew Arnold. “So Amazon has a real opportunity here, provided they can deliver lower costs and a more friction-free experience to patients. It may pose an opportunity for pharmas, too, provided they can partner with Amazon to deliver patient education and support resources along with their medications.”


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