On May 23, 2012, Poste Italiane announced an agreement with the southern region of Basilicata to turn post offices into hubs for access to local health services (appointments, payments…). This is just the latest in a spate of industry news confirming Posts’ increased interest in this vertical.
A few years ago Posts were not active in this market – except those with a logistics business, such Austria Post (temperature-controlled logistics), or DHL Global Forwarding with its Life Sciences and Healthcare unit (transport of pharmaceuticals, biotech, and medical devices).
The Dutch Post (then called TNT Post) entered the Dutch Internet pharmacy market in 2008 by taking a 35% stake in nationale.apotheek.nl, a leading e-drugstore. In 2011 La Poste introduced “Facteurs Services Plus”, which caters for the needs of elderly people . It provides for special deliveries (e.g, of drugs or library books) or at-home visits to disabled residents in remote rural areas.
Recent announcements confirm the health segment is now addressed from multiple stand points :
– Secure mail and document management : private post UK Mail completed in March a certification process ensuring compliance with UK National Health System requirements – in practice, its hybrid mail unit, imail, is now allowed to handle sensitive mail such as medical records, appointment reminders or test results. Poste Italiane’s Posta Checkup also provides for the secure printing and mail delivery of lab tests.
– New counter services : Eesti Post then-CEO said last year the company was considering selling over-the-counter drugs at post offices.
– Local delivery logistics: delivery of hot meals, drugs and groceries to people with reduced mobility is being tested by bpost in Flanders.
–Added-value delivery services: The Telemedicin service (at-home installation of telemedecine equipment on behalf of 17 Danish cities) was launched by Post Danmark in May 2012.
Time will tell if health-related services –such as services for the ageing– can be more than a niche segment. The answer will partly depend on Posts’ ability to understand this market and effectively partner with sector stakeholders (government departments, municipalities, hospitals, associations, universities) and third party IT players. European Commission programs such as AAL (Ambient Assisted Living) should also open the door to new partnerships and pilot tests.