B2C Healthcare - full description

B2C Healthcare is a business model in which Medical, Health and Life Sciences products and services are sold direct to a consumer through ecommerce and other digital channels without the inconvenience and time required to work through an intermediary such as a health insurance company.

B2C is an acronym of Business To Consumer, as differentiated from B2B (Business-To-Business) in which businesses sell products and services to other businesses.

Healthcare in the US is a predominantly B2B2C business, in which there exist many intermediaries between the supplier of healthcare (for example a hospital, drug manufacturer or doctor) and the recipient - the consumer or patient. B2C Healthcare bypasses these intermediaries. When Medical, Heath and Life Sciences businesses sell their products and services directly to a consumer, this is called B2C Healthcare.

US Healthcare Sector Size And Growth

Healthcare is an enormous component of the US economy. According to the Brookings Institution, the healthcare sector employs 11% of US workers, accounts for 24% of government spending (up from under 12% in 1990), and share of GDP spent on healthcare has risen steadily from 5% in 1960 to 18% in 2018, albeit with flat growth during the 1990s. This is 50% higher than any other OECD country. In 2017 more than 2% of Americans had out-of-pocket expenses over $5,000 and 0.5% had expenses over $10,000.

Current Organization of US Healthcare 

The majority of the current US healthcare system is dependent on a system of powerful private healthcare and insurance companies. Healthcare represents an enormous market in which new entrants could generate significant disruption. While other sectors, such as retail and entertainment (to name but two), have been radically transformed by digital technologies and ecommerce, healthcare has yet to witness this in any meaningful sense. Healthcare provision and the relationship between consumers and healthcare providers has not materially changed in the past 80 years.

Barriers to B2C Healthcare

The barriers to businesses providing B2C Healthcare include:

  • Regulatory and legal challenges: Complex regulations are in place to protect consumer privacy, increase the quality of care and prevent financial exploitation and these vary from state to state
  • High costs: Providing healthcare services directly to consumers can be expensive, particularly in the case of specialized or complex care. This can make it difficult for businesses to provide B2C healthcare services profitably.
  • Limited access to capital: Many healthcare businesses require significant investments in technology, infrastructure, and personnel in order to provide B2C healthcare services. This can be a barrier for businesses that have limited access to capital or funding.
  • Resistance from consumers: Some consumers may be resistant to the idea of receiving care directly from a business, and may prefer to access care through a traditional healthcare provider, doctor or insurer.
  • Price transparency: Consumers are often not familiar with the ultimate cost of healthcare and are not used to paying this cost, diverting their spend through health insurance policies
  • Complexity of managing multiple providers: Consumers are intimidated by the prospect of managing multiple providers in order to achieve the best outcomes, this complexity being normally dealt with by insurance companies and other intermediaries

In practice, the above means that innovation in the process of providing healthcare (e.g. from in-person to digital) is incredibly slow. While pharmaceutical companies and others deliver healthcare innovations, the system providing these to patients evolves very very slowly.

Technology for B2C Healthcare

There are significant technology changes that a healthcare provider may need to implement in order to provide B2C healthcare. These changes include:

  • Developing online platforms or portals that allow consumers to access healthcare services and information online
  • Implementing electronic health records (EHR) systems to manage patient data and support the delivery of care
  • Investing in telehealth technologies to allow providers to deliver care remotely, such as through video consultations
  • Implementing data analytics and reporting systems to track the effectiveness of care and identify opportunities for improvement

In order to provide B2C healthcare effectively, providers will need to invest in the technology infrastructure and systems that support these services. This can be a significant undertaking, and may require significant investment in technology, personnel, and training.

There is a bewildering array of software providers for B2C Healthcare, including:

  • ZocDoc: An online platform that allows consumers to find and book appointments with healthcare providers
  • WebMD: An online platform that provides health information and resources to consumers
  • Teladoc: A telehealth platform that allows consumers to access healthcare services remotely, through video consultations
  • Athenahealth: A cloud-based EHR system that helps healthcare providers manage patient data and deliver care
  • MyFitnessPal: A health and fitness tracking app that allows consumers to track their diet, exercise, and other health metrics


This article was updated on December 9, 2022

M Ryan

M Ryan is an ecommerce consultant with twenty years experience working with retailers, consumer brand manufacturers and other consumer-facing businesses helping them to develop their ecommerce strategy, implement ecommerce technology and improve their ecommerce operations. He works extensively throughout US and Europe, with clients including global brands, large retailers and household names in consumer goods.