Walmart Inc-owned Flipkart Group has joined the race to deliver medicines in India, joining the likes of some of the world’s wealthiest conglomerates including Amazon.com Inc, Reliance Industries and the Tata Group, who have been eyeing a share in the near $500 billion digital healthcare marketplace in the country.
Flipkart on Wednesday said that it has launched Flipkart Health+, a technology platform that enables access to medicines, healthcare products and services across the country.
According to an India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) report, the digital healthcare market in India stood at $116.61 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase at a CAGR (Compounded annual growth rate) of 27.41% to $485.43 billion by 2024.
The potential exponential growth has lured Flipkart to take on Reliance Industries’ NetMeds, Tata Group’s 1mg, initial public offer (IPO)-bound and Temasek-backed Pharmeasy, and Amazon India’s organic digital healthcare marketplace foray called Amazon Pharmacy.
Healthcare has become one of the largest sectors of the Indian economy, in terms of both revenues and employment, Flipkart said, adding that the emerging rise in digital adoption in India gives the company an opportunity to make an array of medicines and healthcare products accessible across the country.
Flipkart said it plans to serve customers across 20,000 pin codes in India as it will enable access to medicines and healthcare products from independent sellers through the Flipkart Health+ application.
The company said Flipkart Health+ application would benefit from the expertise and experience of the the Group’s reach and last-mile supply chain capabilities, along with Sastasundar.com's healthcare network across the country.
Flipkart in November last year had acquired a majority stake in online pharmacy and digital health platform SastaSundar Marketplace Ltd that owns and operates SastaSundar.com, VCCircle had reported.
In line with regulatory framework, Flipkart Health+ shall be able to provide access to medicines and healthcare products and services for various health conditions including acute and chronic illnesses, to more customers across India, especially in remote locations that have traditionally remained underserved, the company said.
The Flipkart Health+ platform will have more than 500 independent sellers having a network of registered pharmacists for validation of medical prescriptions and accurate dispensation of medicines, Flipkart said.
Flipkart Health+ said it has put in place various quality checks and verification protocols, which will facilitate delivery of genuine medicines and healthcare products from independent sellers to the customer’s doorstep.
While Flipkart Health+ has started as an intermediary platform, the company said it plans to onboard third-party healthcare service providers who will offer other value-added healthcare services like teleconsultation and e-diagnostics to the customers. The Flipkart Healt+ application is currently available on Google’s Play Store, and the company said it will be made available on iOS (Apple’s operating system) in future.
The Covid-led lockdown restrictions on movements of people and businesses accelerated the adoption of online pharmacy in India.
Companies like NetMeds, Pharmeasy, 1mg saw their revenues rising multifold. For instance, according to data available on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website, NetMeds’ operating revenue grew almost fourfold to Rs 134 crore in2020-21 (FY21), and the company managed to clock a net profit for the first time in at least five years.
Tata 1mg, meanwhile clocked an over two-fold increase in its operating revenue to Rs 134 crore for FY21.
“Since the Covid-19 pandemic, Indians have witnessed a tremendous shift in favoring wellness and preventative healthcare and there is an increased focus on health and wellness, like never before,” said Prashant Jhaveri, Chief Executive Officer, Flipkart Health+.
“We want to leverage technology in a way that strengthens the healthcare ecosystem and enables it to serve customers better by making accessibility to healthcare simpler even for those residing in distant areas of the country and contributing towards a healthier India,” Jhaveri added.