Segment GermanyMarket environmentBusiness performance

The Germany segment managed to increase revenue (including Medpex and Apotal) by 16.5 per cent in local currency terms and further extend its number one position. The acquisitions of the mail-order activities of Apotal, with 1.1 million clients, and TeleClinic, Germany’s leading telemedicine provider, allowed the growth and platform strategy to be rigorously pursued. DocMorris+ marked the launch of a new business model in Germany. This platform provides easy and convenient access to all healthcare services in one place – from diagnosis with an online doctor to the drug or healthcare products needed.

Extending the number one position in Germany

The Zur Rose Group again extended its number one position in the German pharmaceutical e-commerce business in 2020. Despite the deliberate reduction in marketing activities for paper prescriptions in the run-up to the launch of electronic prescriptions, revenue in Germany including Medpex and Apotal rose 16.5 per cent in local currency terms to EUR 1,022.5 billion. In Swiss francs growth stood at 12.3 per cent.

Reorganisation in Germany

In order to capture integration synergies and cover the market more effectively, at the start of 2020 the Germany segment switched from brand-based management to country-based management. The management team of the Germany segment of the Zur Rose Group was also strengthened as from 1 January 2020, with the aim of driving ahead the integration of the individual companies in marketing and IT to achieve economies of scale while simultaneously extending market leadership in the country. As part of the reorganisation, over the course of the year 2020 the Group brought together various service functions with its own staff and operating resources in Heerlen and Mannheim. Vitalsana, which had been based in Heerlen, was legally and economi­cally merged with DocMorris, including staff and clients, and the Vitalsana site closed down. Marketing and Non-Pharma Customer Service for Eurapon Pharmahandel GmbH in Bremen were combined at the DocMorris site in Heerlen. The marketing tasks carried out for various companies in the Germany segment by Zur Rose Pharma GmbH of Halle an der Saale were taken on by the Zur Rose sites in Heerlen and Mannheim.

eHealth-Tec leads in innovation

In June 2020, Zur Rose sub­sidiary eHealth-Tec entered into a strategic partnership with medatixx, a leading provider of software solutions for registered doctors. Its practice software solutions are used by 38,000 doctors across Germany.

Since the e-prescription pilot project with health insurer Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) started in February 2019, eHealth-Tec as technology partner for the remote treatment service has now connected more than 1,200 pharmacies over its proprietary e-prescription solution. With further health insurers joining the shared “e-prescription Germany” project in July 2020, 27 million people who are members of statutory health insurance schemes could have been able to use e-prescriptions.

In the third quarter of 2020 eHealth-Tec completed the technolog­ical expansion of its eRx infrastructure. Because it applies the latest authentication procedures for all eRx users, along with end-to-end encryption, the eHealth-Tec solution meets the strictest security requirements. In terms of functionality the eRx infrastructure fully covers the structure envisaged by gematik, the software service provider of the Federal Ministry of Health, and can already be used for doctors, patients and pharmacies.

In November 2020 gematik awarded the contract for the specialist e-prescription service in Germany to IBM. eHealth-Tec is involved in the implementation as a partner to IBM. This was based on the tender by gematik for the “provision of development services, computer centre infrastructure, system hardware and software as part of the launch of e-prescriptions”. eHealth-Tec contributed its accumulated experience as a systems provider for e-prescription solutions to the IBM bid. Implementation now includes supplying the necessary infrastructure and operating and supporting the hardware and software components to be able to process the entire volume of e-prescriptions generated in Germany. The successful participation in the gematik tender reinforces the role played by the Zur Rose Group as a pioneer in successfully introducing electronic prescriptions in Germany.

The Future Hospitals Act is leading to increased demand in Germany for ERPath, the eHealth-Tec accident and emergency information system, since it offers an opportunity for medical institutions to install digi­tal equipment in their accident and emergency facilities. This innovative software system was one of the first to meet the accident and emergency requirements of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA), giving it a competi­tive advantage. ERPath now supports the work of the medical specialists and care staff in the accident and emergency facilities at more than 100 hospitals.

Apotal acquisition

The Zur Rose Group further extended its leadership in the European market by acquiring the mail-order and diabetes activities of the Apotal Group in 2020. This pharmacy is based in Bad Rothenfelde and operates a mail-order service for non-prescription medicines, health and beauty products and prescription drugs. Apotal also has a market-leading network focused on diabetes patients, providing a broad range of offerings and services related to this chronic condition. The mail-order business of Apotal generated revenue of EUR 157 million in 2019, growing at a high double-digit rate and with positive EBITDA. The additional 1.1 million Apotal customers will enable the Zur Rose Group to achieve improved economies of scale and size advantages.

TeleClinic acquisition

2020 saw the Zur Rose Group acquire Munich-based TeleClinic, Germany’s leading provider of telemedicine. For the Group, TeleClinic is a key strategic building block in the Zur Rose healthcare ecosystem, to which the purchase adds telemedical services. In 2020 TeleClinic managed to increase the number of consultations by its national network of 260 or so registered doctors on the telemedicine platform by over 500 per cent. More than 10,000 private prescriptions were transmitted to pharmacies over the TeleClinic pharmacy portal. The increased patient demand was due to the coronavirus pandemic and cost-free access for non-private patients for the first time. Thanks to its high quality standards, TeleClinic also secured its position with doctors and patients as the first port of call for digital healthcare. In December 2020 TeleClinic launched a new portal for prescribing digital healthcare applications during a video consultation, making it easier to access certified “apps on prescription”.

New branding for DocMorris

Digitalisation is increasingly becoming the key distinguishing feature for all players in healthcare. To also reflect these trends in the healthcare market in the DocMorris brand identity and architecture, the pharmacy has had a new brand image since December 2020. The company will focus even more closely on customers and caring for their health. A logical consequence of this shift in outlook is to replace the previous pharmacy cross with a symbol of people and their health – the heart. The varying shades of green for the heart also reflect the variety of current and future services. The new branding for the DocMorris pharmacy marks just the beginning of a change of paradigm from pharmaceuticals to healthcare.

National campaign

In December 2020 DocMorris launched over online channels the advert “#TakeCare”, telling the story of an elderly gentleman who does himself proud. Over a four-week period the DocMorris commercial gained international attention, with 147 million views. The advert was one of the most-viewed digital Christmas campaigns globally on Facebook and YouTube, enjoying 109 million and 28 million hits respectively. The new brand design with the heart logo as a human symbol having been presented last year, the national campaign across Germany is officially starting in 2021. The multimedia blitz aims to showcase the DocMorris brand as an approachable and reliable partner and make the digital services on the DocMorris+ healthcare platform come alive.

DocMorris+ healthcare platform is launched

A new business model and a new era in health care provision in Germany started in December 2020 with the launch of DocMorris+. This platform provides easy and convenient access to all healthcare services in one place – from diagnosis with an online doctor to the drug or healthcare products needed. For the first time, customers can manage their health with a single app – anywhere, anytime, with just a tap of the finger. The launch therefore marked a strategic milestone on the path towards an integrated healthcare platform. In the start phase the focus is on the capabilities of the partner network and OTC orders by mail order. As the healthcare platform grows, faster delivery options, like pick-up, will then be available to customers. Once a relevant volume of e-prescriptions has been generated in the German market, the tried-and-tested e-prescription module featuring various services, such as receiving and dispensing digital prescriptions, will also be activated in the app.