Essay on Advantages of E-Commerce Into Healthcare Sector
Number of words: 2136
Arguably, the critical role e-commerce has played in transforming all aspects of our lives cannot be disputed. E-commerce denotes the multiple transactions that take place remotely on the internet. Currently, E-commerce dominates multiple business spheres ranging from artificial intelligence, online banking, and social networking to online shopping. Recently, e-commerce has permeated the health care domain (Kudyba, 2010). Conceivably e-commerce has the potential to transform health care as it has done to other sectors. Despite the health care sector, being relatively slow to embrace e-commerce compared to other industries, e-commerce has already transformed the niche substantially (Kudyba, 2010). Notably, some of the platforms, such as ‘Doctor on-demand,’ have influenced how most Americans perceive health care currently. The advantages of e-commerce in health care are numerous ranging from increased efficiency to low costs and happier and healthier patients
Advantages of E-commerce into Healthcare Sector
Expanded access to healthcare-related information
The infiltration of e-commerce into the health care sector has resulted in increased access to healthcare-related information by patients. In particular, e-commerce has resulted in increased transparency in the health-care sector. This has led to patients actively working with their doctors to make informed decisions about their health (Kudyba, 2010). The emergence of numerous sites such as Yelp has led to patients turning to them to share their experiences with various physicians. In these review sites, patients do not only share information on health outcomes and quality of care but also on the overall conduct of the physicians. Plausibly, this underscores the need for physicians to consider seriously the role of e-commerce in transforming the health care sector and work actively to maintain a positive online reputation.
Overall, e-commerce has expanded access to health care services. Unlike traditional health care models where patients needed to be near the physical offices of physicians to access health care services, under e-commerce models, patients can access such services remotely. The group of individuals who are benefitting the most from the remote transactions is the rural American citizens (Chen, 2020). Most of them are located far from medical centers. In this regard, e-commerce allows them to access health care services while they are at their ‘medical-deserts.’
E-commerce has also led to easier access to patients during emergencies. In most of the nations, the success of conventional emergency services has largely been hindered by difficulties in identifying the patients’ location accurately. This is worrying considering a large number of individuals currently have smart devices through which they can be easily located either via mobile phone towers or via GPS services (Chen, 2020). Besides, some developers have developed mobile applications, which provide individuals with easier access to medical emergency services. The applications have widgets that can be placed on the home screen of smartphones for easier access. Such applications are particularly important for elderly patients who might have difficulties operating their smartphones.
Moreover, some of the developers have developed health applications, which have embedded chat boxes that allow patients to find solutions even when they are in stressful situations. The chat boxes usually ask the users clarifying questions and offer them options, and thus they do not have to waste their time typing their responses (Chen, 2020). The chat boxes use artificial intelligence, which means that they are less likely to misunderstand the patients.
Increased efficiency of health care services
E-commerce has resulted in increased efficiency in the health care sector. Arguably, this is because e-commerce has allowed the transfer of non-emergency patient visits from the physician’s offices into online avenues. Subsequently, this means that the persons who are in greater need of health care services and resources can access them easily. Some of these health care services and resources include the time of physicians and other health care practitioners, and other medical tools and items (Lightner, 2020). The increased efficiency can result in aggregate positive impacts on the health care sector. Precisely, it can lead to more lives being saved and assisting understocked and understaffed medical centers.
The increased efficiency of health care services brought about by the infiltration of e-commerce into the health care sector has also reduced the number of visits made to medical centers. As stated previously stated, e-commerce has helped patients who do not have the opportunity to meet their physician in-person to access health services still. Subsequently, this has helped hospitals to get rid of endless queues (Kudyba, 2010). Myriads of apps that offer patients with increased autonomy have got developed. For instance, there are medical reference apps, which users use to garner general information about their illnesses and conditions and to prevent diseases. Besides, there are telemedicine applications that offer patients with remote health care services. For a nation such as the USA, the telemedicine apps are essential, as they have significantly reduced the costs of health care, and have allowed people who cannot access health care services because of either work or other personal reasons to obtain the services remotely.
Reduced the costs of health care services
E-commerce has dramatically reduced the costs of health care services. Notably, patients can access health care services remotely without moving to hospitals. This is important for rural communities who have to rake up high transportation and accommodation costs when seeking health care services (Chen, 2020). Some of the applications, such as telemedicine apps, mean that the patients do not necessarily need to miss work to access health care services. A recent study showed that the online health care visits cost roughly half or less the cost of official physical doctor visits. The study showed that the difference is substantial more so in the case of urgent care visits. The low costs of health care attributed to the infiltration of e-commerce into the health care sector will likely be appealing to the individuals who either have low income or do not have insurance.
Arguably, e-commerce has resulted in healthier patients in America since it has led to low costs and increased efficiency of the health care sector. Notably, e-commerce has reduced the number of families and individuals who put off health care visits because of the high costs. E-commerce has increased the number of people who can afford doctor visits and check-ups (Patil, 2020). All these have translated into improved health of the patients.
E-commerce has also led to healthier patients in the USA, as it has facilitated the 24/7 monitoring of patients. Conceivably, it is often difficult for health care practitioners to keep an eye on their patients more so where the patients are not based in the hospitals. However, currently, there are mobile apps and other wearables that can be used in tracking multiple medical signs such as blood glucose levels, heart rate, and blood pressure, and sleep quality (Patil, 2020). The 24/7 monitoring of the patients is significant as it means that doctors are always in control of the health of their patients even when they get discharged and that the patients can quickly obtain medical help (Patil, 2020). The mobile apps and wearables also allow doctors to assist patients in preventing severe conditions since they can easily detect abnormal signs.
Moreover, e-commerce has led to healthier patients since it has facilitated active health care learning. Health care students use mobile apps and web applications to learn and prepare for exams and other assessments. Individuals from developing nations often use apps to learn more about the latest discoveries in the medical world (Patil, 2020). These applications help not only students but also doctors who want to reference different sources in their daily practice.
Effective management of medical centers
E-commerce has also facilitated better and effective management of different health care centers. Currently, there are web applications that can be connected with mobile apps, which connect physicians, pharmacists, patients, and other health care practitioners (Kudyba, 2010). These systems also aid in the managing of doctor schedules. In particular, the users can note from the systems the times’ doctors are free so that they can book their appointments.
Disadvantages of E-commerce into the health care sector
Despite the immense transformation opportunities that e-commerce offers the health care sector, it has several shortcomings. For instance, numerous quarters have voiced their concerns on the security of sensitive medical information that is usually collected using various e-commerce health care platforms (Soderstrom et al., 2016). Currently, there are no frameworks that ensure the sensitive medical information of the patient is stored correctly and can only get accessed by authorized entities. There is also no guarantee that the sensitive medical information of patients is protected from cyber-attacks through either cybersecurity programs or industry standards. In this regard, there is an urgent need to ensure that all the e-commerce health care platforms have systems that can track the parties who enter, access, and change patients’ information.
Adversely affects the doctor-patient relationship.
Arguably, one of the critical shortcomings of e-commerce in the health care sector is that it adversely affects the doctor-patient relationship. Usually, the relationship between doctors and their patients is essential since the trust that gets developed through the relationship can result in improved health outcomes of patients. Since in e-commerce, the transactions are conducted remotely; this means there is not the face-to-face aspect of the doctor/physician visits that aids in developing the doctor-patient relationship (Soderstrom et al., 2016). There have also been concerns about whether doctors can conduct robust physical examination using e-commerce platforms. However, it is imperative to note that e-commerce health care platforms are often not used in isolation; they complement traditional health care platforms. E-commerce providers in the health care sectors should take the necessary steps to promote this relationship (Soderstrom et al., 2016).. In particular, they should encourage doctors and other health care practitioners to try and know their patients better instead of treating them as only consumers of health care services.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) of 1996 is a US’s piece of legislation that offers security and data privacy provisions for protecting medical information. Some of the e-commerce providers and doctors do not understand the rights of their patients better. This is despite HIPAA requiring e-commerce providers and doctors to protect and uphold patient information and privacy more so where it is both stored and accessed remotely (Soderstrom et al., 2016). E-commerce providers and doctors may be susceptible to expensive lawsuits where they are found to be in breach of the HIPAA regulations. One of the ways through which e-commerce providers and doctors can ensure the security of patient information and compliance with HIPAA regulation is by employing tiered protection. Tiered protection often encompasses physical, technical, and administrative protective measures that ensure the security of patients and their information.
Some of the e-commerce platforms are costly.
Although e-commerce platforms help in the lowering of health care costs, they are not cheap. Specifically, most of the EHR and EMR databases cost millions of dollars. Consequently, hospitals do not only spend substantial sums of money procuring and installing these databases but also in training their staff to use them. These costs may get transferred to the patients.
From the preceding, it is evident that e-commerce has numerous advantages for the health care sector. Notably, e-commerce in the health care sector will result in lower costs, increased efficiency, and accessibility to health care services. However, there is a need to address the concerns on the security of patient information and details if they are to be successful in the end. Health care facilities and practitioners need to get trained on how to handle better sensitive medical information of their patients and how to uphold the privacy of such information. Besides, health care practitioners need to get trained on HIPAA standards to ensure that they do not contravene it.
To sum it up, the essay has offered a robust discussion of the advantages of e-commerce in the health care sector. After that, the paper has briefly looked at the disadvantages of e-commerce in the health care sector. Lastly, the essay has tabled recommendations on how the health care sector can leverage the transformative capabilities of e-commerce.
Chen, Y. W. (2020). Deep Learning in Healthcare: Paradigms and Applications. Springer Nature.
Kudyba, S. P. (2010). Healthcare informatics: improving efficiency and productivity. CRC Press.
Lightner, N. J. (2020). Advances in Human Factors and Ergonomics in Healthcare and Medical Devices. Springer International Publishing.
Patil, K. S. (2020). Healthcare and E-Commerce. Our Heritage, 68(33), 577-584.
Söderström, E., Eriksson, N., & Åhlfeldt, R. M. (2016). Managing healthcare information: analyzing trust. International journal of health care quality assurance.