HealthcarePapers 4(2) November 2003 : 69-74.doi:10.12927/hcpap..16888

Providing Services Globally: The Experience of an Internet Pharmacy

Willem Wassenaar


Globalization of hospital-based medical services represents another step in the globalization of healthcare. The rise of transnational pharmaceutical firms represents an early example of the globalization of healthcare, which on the whole has provided many benefits. Medical discoveries made in one country are rapidly and seamlessly made available to patients in other parts of the world. Clinical research methodology has become much more sophisticated, and both the size and the scope of clinical studies have increased. Regulatory practices have developed to meet the highest national requirements and thus have served to improve standards worldwide. Globalization of hospital-based medical services may similarly serve as a catalyst to new methodologies and improve standards of service worldwide.

Before such benefits can be realized, however, there are a number of regulatory and economic obstacles to overcome. An insight to some of these obstacles can be gleaned from the experiences of the Internet pharmacies. Provision of pharmacy services via the Internet has raised a number of regulatory and human resources issues. The revenue model is also instructive and has implications for the expectations of globalization as a source of revenue for hospitals. This paper will report on the development of one Internet pharmacy and the initiatives of other Internet pharmacies to overcome provincial and federal regulations limiting the provisions of services across borders. Some of these issues will also be problems for the provision of global medical services by hospitals as presented in the lead paper.



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