Segment SwitzerlandMarket environmentBusiness performance
Despite difficult conditions due to the pandemic, during the year under review Zur Rose forged ahead with the shift from being a supplier of medicines in the narrow sense of the word to an operator of healthcare platforms and technology provider. The joint digital healthcare platform with partners announced in the autumn sets new standards in Swiss healthcare.
Pleasing performance despite the coronavirus crisis
Zur Rose increased revenue in the Switzerland segment by 7.1 per cent in the year under review to CHF 593.1 million, a growth rate well in excess of the market. As early as February, Zur Rose set up a crisis unit to implement the business and operating measures needed in view of the pandemic. In terms of business, the initial phase saw a strong rise in demand for both prescription and non-prescription drugs. Zur Rose therefore drew up a list of vitally necessary medicines and by working closely with authorities and manufacturers ensured these remained available on the market. Where supplies were at risk, Zur Rose increased the inventories of drugs held despite the huge increase in storage costs. The overriding objective was to guarantee the greatest possible security of supply and deliveries by prudent planning. In mid-March the Federal Council imposed a restriction on dispensing medicines and also declared that only urgent treatments should take place in doctors’ surgeries. Demand for drugs in the early part of the year therefore declined again, especially in the physicians business, but had largely returned to normal by the beginning of the summer. There was definite and sustained growth in customers in the online business during the crisis.
Leading technology provider and platform operator in eHealth
As part of the acceleration in digitalisation, during the year under review the Zur Rose Group considerably stepped up the focus on its offering as a technology provider and operator of platforms and ecosystems in the eHealth industry. The Swiss business saw further development in the platform technology for supply chain, professional services and patient services. The emphasis is on the “platform as a service” model: Zur Rose supplies technology, logistics and interfaces to service providers in exchange for a licensing fee.
In November Zur Rose announced the creation of a joint venture with partners Allianz Care, CSS and Visana to operate an extensive digital healthcare platform. This will go online in Switzerland in the second quarter of 2021. The platform is open to all players in the healthcare sector: insurers, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other providers can offer their services. Patients enjoy access to tailored, quality assured healthcare services round the clock at the click of a mouse. This platform sets new standards in Swiss healthcare and lays the foundations for digitally supported, integrated provision.
Professional Services: delivering medication and digitalising practice processes
Zur Rose increased its market share in Professional Services (physicians business) from 25 per cent to 25.4 per cent. Persistent cost pressure in the healthcare system has resulted in greater price sensitivity and an awareness of processing costs. Since 1 January 2020, Zur Rose has therefore been offering Professional Services customers a new pricing model with attractive service conditions.
The coronavirus pandemic boosted demand for simple digital solutions in outpatient care too: there was a steep rise in telephone enquiries and video consultations, and surveys of doctors showed a great need for a quick and secure way of transmitting prescriptions. Zur Rose supported practices, the providers of basic healthcare, with a broad information campaign to help them deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its impact. Along with information on daily operations and rapid tests, thanks to the assistance in prescription transmission, practices were able to ensure patients at risk had their medicines delivered to their homes by the online pharmacy.
BlueCare: the Zur Rose technology hub
In its role as technology hub for the Switzerland segment, BlueCare came up with several innovative solutions for service providers during the year under review: digital assistance in prescription transmission allows every doctor’s practice to send prescriptions to any pharmacy electronically in any format. A product called BlueMedication was developed; this increases drug therapy safety by automatically scanning medication data in reports (for example on discharge from hospital) and displaying these in a structured list of drugs. The application also performs a digital comparison with an existing medication plan and has an extended interaction control which also takes account of issues such as dosage, age tolerance, allergies and certain pre-existing conditions, and checks them digitally.
Expanding Specialty Care
During the year under review the Zur Rose Group set up the subsidiary Specialty Care Therapiezentren AG to further extend the offering in Specialty Care both in location and the hours it is available. The Specialty Care team has specifically trained care staff to support patients with complex treatments in correctly administering medications, such as carrying out infusion therapies. Patients can access this service at home or in the practice of a partner doctor. With the offering constantly undergoing further development, several new cooperations with manufacturers were entered into during the year.
Integrated supply solutions with health insurers and managed care organisations
Zur Rose renewed cooperation agreements with several health insurers and worked jointly with its partners to develop innovative solutions in health insurance. The Multimed basic insurance model launched in 2019 with CSS saw strong demand and demonstrates that a lower deductible is an important incentive for policyholders. The aim is to integrate insurance solutions into the digital healthcare platform and contribute to lowering the cost of healthcare with innovative product ideas and process improvements.
In September Zur Rose launched the digital medication assistant Medi+ jointly with insurer KPT: the service is free to use for KPT policyholders and, provided they give their consent, all drugs billed through KPT are automatically shown in the medication plan. Further drugs can be added to the list using a scan function. This means the application has an overview at all times of all medications to be taken. Medi+ also makes it possible to set up a schedule for taking medications with a reminder function, store prescriptions and order more supplies easily online. Customers of the Zur Rose online pharmacy can also use the functionalities of Medi+ through their customer account.
Pleasing performance from both joint ventures with Migros subsidiary Medbase
Zur Rose is pursuing an omni-channel approach with the shop-in-shop pharmacies in Migros branches. Further branches opened in 2020 in the Tivoli shopping centre in Spreitenbach and the Wynecenter in Buchs in the canton of Aargau. Another branch was added at the end of November in the Migros supermarket in Crissier in the canton of Vaud, thus marking the entry into the market in French-speaking Switzerland.
The joint venture ZRMB Marketplace AG operates an online shop for non-prescription health and care products at zurrose-shop.ch. In the medium term this will operate as a marketplace where other partners are able to offer their products. The online shop is performing robustly against the competition: revenue was well ahead of budget and more than twice the level of the previous year. This reflects both increased demand for articles such as protective masks and disinfectants at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and also a general trend towards more online sales, especially on mobile devices. As the sole online channel for health and care products, since the end of February the shop has offered customers the ability to collect Migros Cumulus points on every purchase. Thanks to targeted digital marketing, an expanded range and an attractive pricing policy, the numbers of both new and repeat customers more than doubled year on year. Active customers display both more frequent purchases and very high levels of satisfaction.
Zur Rose the best-known online pharmacy in Switzerland
The major redesign of the online presence of zurrose.ch during the year under review marked a major milestone in the transformation of the traditional mail-order business into an online pharmacy: Zur Rose both modernised the look and optimised the user experience. The online relaunch in the autumn was accompanied by a national marketing campaign. This particularly emphasised the entry into the market in French-speaking Switzerland. For the first time Zur Rose used French-language channels for TV adverts and launched a social media campaign in this part of the country, which resulted in brand recognition shooting up in less than a year: the figure was 26 per cent on an unprompted basis in French-speaking Switzerland, almost double the level of the previous year. In German-speaking areas Zur Rose climbed to become the best-known online pharmacy in both prompted and unprompted surveys. The increased brand recognition was also reflected in the user numbers: active customers at the online pharmacy rose 8 per cent year on year.
As part of the redesign the Zur Rose customer account was revamped and various functionalities added. The account lets customers manage and renew repeat prescriptions clearly and order medications easily online, as well as providing a reminder function when doctors’ prescriptions run out. The Medi+ medication assistant launched with insurer KPT can also be used in the Zur Rose account, making it accessible to Zur Rose customers, too.
Drug blister packaging under the Dailymed brand
If several drugs have to be taken every week, individual blister packaging demonstrably increases patient safety and therapy adherence. During the year under review Dailymed enjoyed pleasing customer growth year on year. One of the things that made this possible was further digitalisation of the production and ordering process. A new distribution structure was put in place, laying the foundation for successful acquisition and servicing of institutions such as care homes, which also benefit from Dailymed.