Last year healthcare expenditures in the U.S. reached $3.3 trillion – yes, trillion. If you think this figure is large, you’d be right. In terms of healthcare spending, the U.S. leads the pack – in absolute terms, per capita and as a percentage of GDP.
Emerging Markets and Countries
The U.S. and other developed markets such as European countries are crucial to life sciences companies. But in recent years, emerging markets have risen in importance. Research by Deloitte found that eight of the top 20 pharmaceutical markets in the world are in emerging countries. These include China, Russia and India. Healthcare spending is on the rise, which is driven by changes in demographics. As the middle class in these countries has grown, healthcare spending has grown concurrently.
Life sciences organizations who have traditionally worked across developed market countries may be hesitant to look at opportunities in developing markets. It is fair to say that these countries present challenges. Many are not simply purchasers of life sciences products – they make and manufacture pharma and medtech products too. They also have different, sometimes more flexible regulatory requirements. While it would be a mistake to ignore the growing buying power of these countries, life sciences companies need to research these markets carefully.
Growth of E-commerce
Shifting demographics have impacted developed markets too. In developed countries, populations are aging and – thanks to better healthcare – the elderly are living longer. These changes have happened alongside the explosive growth of e-commerce. E-commerce has changed the way consumers shop – not just for clothes and books, but also for healthcare products. Price-conscious consumers can now look online to fulfill prescriptions and buy over-the-counter medical products. For example, online pharmacy websites like Blink Health allow customers to purchase erectile dysfunction pills and other types of medication quickly, easily, and in a discreet manner.
Direct-to-patient shipping is likely to become more important in emerging markets too. China is one of the largest retail e-commerce markets in the world. Although e-commerce penetration is lower across Africa and the Middle East, this is changing.
Home healthcare is growing in popularity too. It is more comfortable and convenient as well as a lot less expensive. As a result, many more healthcare shipments are going directly to patients, upending traditional distribution channels.
New Trends Require New Capabilities
The importance of emerging markets and patients-as-consumers are two trends that are likely to shape how life sciences companies operate – and distribute their products – in the foreseeable future.
Life sciences shipping has begun to move away from traditional distribution methods and parcels are replacing pallets. This means companies need new capabilities to manage their shipping process.
Higher volumes of smaller shipments to more destinations adds complexity. This also increases the need for accurate documentation and better visibility into shipping spend. In addition, some markets have immature logistics and transportation industries. Life science products often require special handling, and companies need to ensure their goods are transported correctly, delivered on time and arrive in perfect condition.
A company’s distribution model can be a competitive advantage. Done right, a direct-to-patient distribution model could increase brand loyalty while also reducing shipping costs. Deloitte found that life sciences companies could reduce spend by 15 to 20 percent and still improve patient experience, such as in the case of CareDash’s top 7 telehealth companies. Companies with the abilities to reach customers efficiently and cost-effectively will have a distinct advantage over those who have yet to move on from traditional distribution models.
How TMS Can Help
There are five critical capabilities life science companies need to ensure successful global shipping processes:
- A global carrier network with access to specialist carriers
- Automated export documentation
- Documentation related to hazardous or infectious substances
- Trade compliance screening
- International package tracking
A strong transportation management system (TMS) solution integrates compliance, global trade and transportation management with access to a global multi-carrier network. TMS allows you to select carriers by geography and capability, such as cold-chain or hospital delivery services. You can also compare costs, routing options and other criteria so you can make the best shipping decisions.
A global trade management module should automate the export processes, including documentation production and customs reporting. TMS ensures that all the documents required to complete a shipment are prepared correctly. This includes documentation for specialist life sciences products as well as hazardous or infectious goods.
Of course, when you ship biological or chemical compounds, you must ensure that your trading partners are authorized to receive such shipments. By leveraging a TMS solution at the beginning of the export sales process, life sciences shippers can verify trading partners, determine end use, validate the country of destination and so forth. You can perform due diligence, streamline trade compliance, create audit-ready electronic reports and mitigate the risks associated with changing global trading environments.
Last but not least, when you send sensitive materials, you need shipment visibility. With a TMS solution you can track shipments from one centralized portal – no matter where you send or which carrier you use. TMS also allows you to proactively manage problem shipments by exception, capture proof of delivery, and raise tracers for lost and damaged shipments. With all of the capabilities QAD TMS has to offer, our goal remains the same: enable our customers to build the effective enterprise.