Omni-channel in the healthcare sector

Our expert

Qingsong Miao

Former Senior Account Manager
Arvato Supply Chain Solutions


The healthcare industry is characterized by many legal and logistical characteristics. How is this extremely complex sector dealing with the omnichannel trend and what are further developments that might influence the industry?

1. The omnichannel trend is clearly visible across all industries. How is this trend emerging in the healthcare sector?

The patient is getting more and more in focus. Accordingly, the pharmaceutical and medical technology companies are looking for new distribution channels to get closer to him or her. The traditional way for healthcare companies is to sell to wholesalers and distributors and those sell to pharmacies, hospitals and laboratories. However, more and more companies are considering skipping the middlemen either by selling directly to pharmacies and hospitals or, in the next step, delivering directly to the patients, for example by own web shops or via mail order pharmacies.

2. What restrictions need to be considered?

There are very strict rules regarding the sale of medicines. This also differs from country to country within Europe, which does not make things any easier. For example, medicines may not be sold directly to the patient by the manufacturer. This is different with medical devices. Here, however, a variety of reimbursement systems play a role.

3. Is the omnichannel concept a realistic one for the healthcare industry?

I think it's worth it for an increasing number of companies in the industry. In medical devices, direct sales to hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies is actually useful for all companies. And for many pharmaceutical companies Direct-to-Pharmacy and Direct-to-Hospital is usually beneficial. Direct-to-patient is certainly possible when it comes to a clearly superior product. However, the more the product competes, the more likely it is that channel conflicts will be critically evaluated. As a result, there is a development towards multichannel solutions.

But there are already first omnichannel approaches. There are many possibilities, for example, a patient-specific consignment is sent to a pharmacy, including patient-specific information, and the pharmacist is also supported in individualized patient counseling. Or vice versa: You order in the pharmacy and get delivered voluminous incontinence products discreetly to your home. In another case, the first consultation with the optician takes place and the replacement of contact lenses is then via App orders at home.

My personal opinion is that omnichannel solutions can trigger a significant change process in the healthcare industry. In addition, traditional partners such as pharmacies and hospitals are included in the value chain. Omnichannel is a suitable way to achieve higher customer satisfaction.

4. What are the added values that Arvato offers to the customer?

Arvato is an all-round player offering end-to-end solutions and that's something that every customer values. Arvato offers services along the entire value chain – from the web shop via inventory management and logistics to the payment process. Everything from one source is a great advantage for the customer. I think, the examples above make it clear which complex – because patient-individual – processes need to be built up for large scales here. That's a big strength of Arvato.

5. Is Arvato Supply Chain Solutions well positioned for this process?

From my point of view, Arvato has the opportunity to be very successful here because they have both cross-industry experience, like from the fields of consumer products or high-tech & Entertainment, and a good understanding of the customer needs in the healthcare industry. So they can develop new targeted solutions and show the benefits of different channels much better. Many customers in the healthcare sector are still thinking very traditionally. Arvato has the know-how to support their customers in transforming distribution channels best.

Qingsong Miao was working in Healthcare at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions as Senior Account Manager. In more than eight years at Arvato, he has gained experience in various industries at sites in Germany, Hong Kong and Shanghai. He has been managing healthcare customers for two years and worked with them to develop various sales channels in various European countries.


More about Healthcare

Back to topic page