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Tech giants are eyeing a piece of the health care pie

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With U.S. health care spending expected to rise above $4.2 trillion at a CAGR of 5% in 2019-2023, the level of engagement for consumer, patient and omnicommerce digital health solutions has exploded. Tech giants such as Microsoft and Best Buy are investing in digital health technology to improve consumer health experiences. Retailer capital investments in digital health care include online grocery, e-pharmacy, social commerce, virtual store shelves, adherence tracking, cloud computing, 5G store connections, artificial intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) all help streamline health care delivery for high-value shopper.

Brian Owens

Best Buy has spent roughly $1 billion on acquisitions to expand its health care services, according to Forbes. The company’s expansion into health care has helped it overcome declines in consumer electronic sales, according to Bloomberg. Senior care is Best Buy’s niche in the health care services market. One million seniors are using the company’s health offerings, and Best Buy’s goal is to expand its health services to 5 million seniors by fiscal 2025, according to MarketWatch. The company could generate as much as $46 billion in revenue from its commercial health business over the next 10 to 20 years.

THE WHAT: Accelerating capex investments in telehealth

The consumerization of technology and health has created new engagement opportunities for retailers. According to Startup Health, in 2019 there were 39 digital health unicorns and 39 global digital health care unicorns with a combined worth of $92.8 billion. The top-funded telehealth categories included: Telemedicine with $1.8 billion, data analytics with $1.6 billion, m-health apps with $1.2 billion, clinical decision support with $748 million, mobile wireless technology with $556 million and booking with $537 million.

As consumers become more wellness focused, value conscious and informed, more institutions will be forced to embrace digital technologies which facilitate better customer care experiences, so health care is delivered more efficiently and effectively. Digital health tech start-up ROMAN, a digital health clinic for men that handles everything from online evaluation to dispensing of treatment, uses technology innovations designed to squeeze savings and efficiency out of today’s health care delivery system.

SO WHAT: Increased usage of retailer health-related services

Retail shoppers have grown accustomed to living in a digital world for banking, entertainment, commerce and many other activities. Retailers such as AT&T, Comcast and Amazon are all finding unique ways to turn their digital assets into new revenue streams. AT&T is collaborating with medical bracelet company Zebra to create better forms of identification that also keep tabs on patients’ locations. Comcast is working with senior living facilities to develop solutions for remote health care. Amazon Pharmacy was introduced at the end of 2019 and registered as a trademark in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union. An Amazon spokesperson has said that “we are always considering ways to delight customers in all the markets we serve,” while medication accounts, in many cases, for a significant percentage of household consumption and is associated with other items — among them over-the-counter drugs to parapharmaceuticals, cosmetics or wellness-related products — in which the company already has a significant position.

Today’s shoppers increasingly want their consumer technology to be integrated with health providers, insurers and the brands they love. They expect retail health care to be easy, convenient, speedy personal and mobile. CVS Carepass digital offering provides free at-home delivery for generic prescription medicines and selected health and wellness front-store items. Twenty percent of the CVS Health Hub new stores will be dedicated to health-related services, which include exclusive benefits for Aetna insurers. Kantar ShopperScape data indicates that traditional health services such as immunizations, eye exams and dental exams, all have higher usage.

NOW WHAT: Healthcare marketers can invest more in digital to acquire new customers

The lasting impact of COVID-19 on today’s omnichannel shopper will mean prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022. This shift in consumption from offline to online will cause media usage to surge across the Web and on social media platforms. This surge will create new space for consumers to have both the time and mental availability to hear from brands.

Consumers are increasingly turning to search engines for information on how to protect themselves and their communities. Retail stores and the SERP are giving shoppers the ability to purchase everything from O-T-C painkillers to vital medication. Many health brands are seeing increased ease in selling their products online, with ad clicks and conversion rates both significantly higher than usual. Google receives more than 1 billion health questions every day. An estimated 7% of Google’s daily searches are health related, according to Google Health vice president Dr. David Feinberg, The Telegraph reports. Google’s total daily health-related searches amount to 70,000 each minute.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, health care companies’ global advertising expenditure is projected to increase by 3.6%, to an estimated $36 billion in 2020. U.S. health care advertising spend is expected to increase by 5% in both 2020 and 2021. This means that health care digital advertising spend will overtake health care TV ad spend for the first time in 2021. Health care digital advertising spend will account for 46% of all health care ad spend.

Final Takeaway: New opportunities for Pharma and CPG brands

The consumerism of digital health now provides pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods brands with clearer investment opportunities to scale DTC experiences, mobile and voice technology, and consumer wearables technology in retail shopper ecosystems. For example, 73% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a higi station at retail stores such as Rite Aid or Weg­mans. Higi’s HIPPA-compliant approach to brand marketing allows for both pharmaceutical and CPG brands to identify and reach high-value ­consumers.

Navigating this new digital health care world requires ample research and landscape analysis to play and win. Selecting the right partner and platforms is essential to scale new health care delivery models. Kantar can help drive consumer and shopper experiences across digital health platforms in a seamless omni-channel way.

Brian Owens is senior vice president of Retail Insights at Kantar. His email is brian.owens@kantar.com.


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