[Written in partnership with Supernewsroom, but the editorial team had full control over the content.]
With the digitalisation of businesses in the age of COVID-19, even the archaic healthcare industry has had to keep up, albeit largely with the help of healthtech startups.
One such company is Goobat, which was founded in August 2019 under the parent company Healthestate Sdn Bhd.
But it wasn’t until the pandemic and its restrictions that Goobat launched Goobat.Care, its e-pharmacy store, after seeing the rising demand for e-healthcare.
Asher Looi, co-founder of Goobat told Vulcan Post that Goobat.Care aims to address 3 pain points:
- The hassle of physically visiting a pharmacy to seek medical consultation,
- The difficulty in finding a balance between low prices and genuine branded products,
- And the insurance of an untampered delivery of products.
All of these fall under the same, single goal—to decentralise the pharmacy industry.
A fully-online pharmacy experience
I couldn’t figure out what “Goobat” meant on my own, so I posed this question to Asher and he replied, “The origin of Goobat is ‘Go Ubat’, which means medicine delivery. The idea of delivering medicine to your home is to revolutionise the healthcare industry towards e-healthcare.”
To do this, Goobat.Care first procures its products from Maxwell Pharmacy, its sister company, under a long-term partnership.
These products are filtered for authenticity with the help of Maxwell Pharmacy then carefully packed by staff who handle Goobat.Care’s logistics.
Keeping a tight rein over the procurement and packing of products is how Goobat.Care is able to guarantee customers that everything they receive will be 100% genuine and damage-free.
Products aside, Goobat.Care also prides itself on its “Chat With Pharmacist” feature, whereby users can chat with a full-time pharmacist hired under Goobat and 4 in-house pharmacists from Maxwell Pharmacy. It is currently operating from 10AM to 7PM.
Here, users will fill up their details and inquiries based on health conditions, and a pharmacist will reach out in under 20 minutes. According to Asher, all their pharmacists can communicate in English, Bahasa Melayu, and Mandarin.
“These pharmacists are registered with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) with at least 4 years of working in the field,” he assured.
Users can also get virtual pharmaceutical consultations on the site as they would in person, but receiving prescription medicine is not guaranteed.
One can be refused the medicine if their prescription is invalid, or if the medical practitioner they get connected to believes it will have a negative effect on or be abused by the user.
Stifled healthtech growth for decades
From experience, Asher shared that it’s been decades since Malaysia’s digital healthcare industry had seen any significant growth.
This came down to it being run by healthcare professionals who still largely preferred traditional ways, up until the pandemic forced them to think and act differently.
At the same time, Asher pointed out several regulatory issues that were stifling healthtech’s growth. These included the many uncertainties over online prescriptions for the private sector, and the fact that healthtech players have to keep up with changing officers and agencies for inquiries each time.
Furthermore, he believes that our government isn’t very receptive to new and innovative ideas that could make the healthcare industry more efficient.
However, he remains positive that things can change for the better, and that it’s only a matter of time before they do.
Staying competitive in the industry
Despite these difficulties though, the private sector is taking the responsibility of furthering healthtech upon itself, both through traditional pharmacies expanding online and startups growing online-only pharmacies.
An example of the latter is Esyms, whom we covered in March 2020. A few differences between it and Goobat.Care, however, are how Eysms partners multiple pharmacies for procurement and delivery, and operates mainly through an app.
Though Goobat.Care has no app yet, Asher shared that one is in development as it’s definitely a “must-have” in the current era.
In terms of pricing differences across online pharmacies like Esyms and Goobat.Care, and traditional pharmacies’ online stores like Watsons’, I managed to find one product all 3 offered as an example.
For a 60ml bottle of Bio-Oil, Goobat.Care charges RM29.50, while Esyms charges RM29.90, and Watsons charges RM31.80. All prices are excluding the delivery fee.
However, we can’t say that this example is representative of the pricing differences offered across all products in the stores, as it wasn’t easy to find each store selling the same exact vitamin or medication. Thus, a user with a specific product in mind would have to do their own research before making a purchase.
Regarding delivery speed, Asher confidently stated that Goobat.Care’s Express Delivery is able to compete with that of Esyms’ and GrabMart’s, for example, which claim to deliver within a few hours in the Klang Valley.
The future of pharmacy
After investing about RM1 million to grow the e-pharmacy, Asher said that Goobat.Care has kept a 30% average growth rate in monthly sales and orders ever since their fourth month. This comes from approximately 5K registered users and about 200 daily users.
To stay ahead of the curve in the industry, Goobat.Care also began accepting crypto payments in January 2021, following demands from consumers.
As for the overall future of the online pharmacy experience, Asher foresees that it will be “personal and direct.” Goobat.Care itself is already attempting to close the gap between it and its customers.
“For example, our social media [team] has always been trying to get as much information they could harvest from users in order to push them feeds or advertisement that matches their interest,” he said.
Now if the online pharmacies are able to harvest data from their users and actually push them products or services that they really need to keep them living a healthier and longer life, that would be the future. Everyone wants to live longer but they aren’t living healthier.Asher Looi, co-founder of Goobat and Healthestate
Featured Image Credit: Asher Looi, co-founder of Goobat