March 17, 2020
Inside: Tips to keep your patients and pharmacy healthy during the novel coronavirus outbreak. A guide for the independent pharmacy industry.
Novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is now spreading across the U.S., with confirmed cases in all 50 states.
The spread of the virus has put a national spotlight on hygiene and healthcare, and as a pharmacist, you are one of the first resources for your patients. Here are some steps you can take to make your patients feel supported and keep your pharmacy profitable during these stressful weeks.
While most Americans — especially your most vulnerable patients — are practicing social distancing, it’s your pharmacy delivery service‘s time to shine.
Make sure that patients know you have a delivery service by sending out an email blast or text message reminder. You can also waive delivery fees to encourage patients to use the service who might otherwise be deterred by the extra cost. Social isolation doesn’t have to be the reason your patients don’t get their prescriptions.
Take special precautions when delivering to those with underlying conditions and the elderly. Go beyond delivering medications and ask what front-end items they would like delivered along with their meds.
If you don’t currently have a delivery service, offer to bring prescriptions out to the curb so patients don’t have to enter the pharmacy to get their medication.
Minimize the number of times patients have to come into the pharmacy with medication synchronization.
Med sync programs let patients pick up all their medications for the month at one time, which means they can minimize the number of times they have to leave the house and decrease their chance of exposure to the coronavirus.
Implementing synchronization now will have long term positive effects for patients, making them five times more likely to adhere to their medications and 21 percent less likely to discontinue their drug treatment, according to a study by the NCPA.
If you offer medication synchronization, use this opportunity to get new patients on board with your program. Amp up your advertisements and call eligible patients individually to check in and let them know that your program will allow them to make fewer trips out of their house.
For patients who may not need synchronizing but have recurring refills, the CDC and other health organizations are urging pharmacists to increase refills for a longer periods of time, even as long as 60 days.
By now, you’ve probably seen photos of empty store shelves that used to carry toilet paper, canned goods, and pasta. You may have even experienced it yourself.
Panic-buying is an emotional comfort to patients in times of crisis, and you can help by making sure your shelves are fully stocked with the things that make them feel safe.
You may even want to shift your inventory to meet their needs. Even if you don’t normally carry grocery products, stock up on healthy non-perishables so your patients can eliminate an extra trip to the grocery store and decrease their risk of exposure.
Some of the most in-demand products on the market right now are hand sanitizers, cleaning products, and non-perishable paper supplies like toilet paper.
You may consider putting a limit on the number of these types of products customers can buy to make sure everyone who needs them has access and one person doesn’t buy up the entire supply.
If you’re currently out of hand sanitizer and don’t know when you’ll be able to restock, make your own. The FDA is now encouraging pharmacists to formulate their own sanitizer using a suggested recipe of alcohol, glycerol, hydrogen peroxide, and sterile water.
Consider special hours for those who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Let the elderly and those with chronic conditions or other health problems come to you pharmacy an hour before opening or an hour after closing so they can minimize their risk of exposure.
Make sure they know, however, about your delivery, drive-through, and curbside pickup options before they come into your store.
Implement preventive practices to keep your staff and patients safe.
Here are some ideas to prevent the spread of coronavirus:
With so much health talk on the news and in the community, patients will be more sensitive to the chills, aches, and fevers that come along with the regular flu season, which is still in full swing.
Create a display of OTC products that will treat flu-like symptoms, making them easy for patients to find. It’s an easy way to help soothe their worries and make them feel taken care of.
Your patients have more contact with you than any other healthcare professional, which means they will be looking to you for guidance in this turbulent time of the coronavirus.
Make sure you stay up to date on all the news related to COVID-19 so you can give your patients the best advice.
The CDC has a page for healthcare professionals that is updated daily with information on testing, home care guidance, and answers to frequently asked questions. Local health departments and the World Health Organization are also good resources to stay informed.
Now, more than ever, your patients need you to be at the top of your game. Be patient with the anxious folks coming into your pharmacy, and do your best to give them what they need with a friendly smile. Go out of your way to meet their needs, even to the detriment of current business.
Though you may be frazzled with more traffic than ever, by being a steadfast resource for patients in this unpredictable time, they will gladly keep returning to you after the pandemic has passed.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates a VAWD-certified warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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