Inside: With the pandemic causing extra stress, pivot to help your patients focus on wellness.
The pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of everyday life for Americans. Eating habits, working habits, and sleeping habits have all been disrupted — not to mention the added stress of homeschooling kids or not knowing where your next roll of toilet paper will come from.
But these disruptions also create an opportunity for independent pharmacies to provide a steadying hand. Your independent pharmacy has many of the products and resources patients need in order to establish regular, healthy habits in this stressful and irregular time.
Here’s how you can promote your products and services and increase the health and wellness of your patients at the same time.
Improve sleeping habits
The Washington Post recently reported a new trend of “coronasomnia.” The pandemic has people more stressed about money, has upset their routines, and has them spending more time on electronic devices, all of which have combined to create a new wave of people with sleep problems.
Help your patients that might be suffering from insomnia by actively recommending products that will help them sleep better, like over-the-counter sleep aids or natural supplements. You can also recommend vitamins and supplements that will give patients more energy on the days that they don’t manage to get a good night’s sleep.
You can also start carrying products that will help patients control their environment to fall asleep more quickly, like earplugs, sleep masks that block out light, or white noise machines.
Patients struggling with exhaustion or sleeplessness might also benefit from medication counseling. By performing a medication review, you can help them identify if certain medications are causing them to feel especially tired or are disrupting their sleep, and then work with them and their physician to come up with an alternative prescription regimen, if possible.
Since the pandemic began, people have been exercising less. Gyms are closed, or people are avoiding them in order to maintain social distance. But even though people are moving less, many of your patients are probably itching for ways to stay active.
Take advantage of social media to give patients ideas on how to stay active. You can recommend online workout videos, or create a calisthenics routine of your own and challenge patients to take part. You can also recommend exercise apps that help patients track their workouts.
Make sure you have the right products on the shelves to promote healthy exercise habits. You could also create a “sports nutrition” section with protein bars and hydrating beverages to help patients get the most out of their workout.
Stock basic items that patients might be looking for if they are building a home gym, like hand weights, yoga mats, jump ropes, and resistance bands.
Keep an eye on alcohol consumption
Many bars may have shut their doors, but Americans are still drinking more alcohol during the pandemic. A report in JAMA Network Open found that Americans are drinking 14 percent more often during the pandemic and that instances of heavy drinking among women have increased by 41 percent.
Since alcohol consumption can cause interactions with patients’ medications, this is something independent pharmacies need to be aware of. Emphasize potential interactions when dispensing medications.
Use your social media to educate your patients on healthy levels of alcohol consumption, and suggest alternatives to pouring out a “quarantini.” Remind them that alcohol can compromise the human body’s immune system, which isn’t ideal during a pandemic, and that drinking too much can cause other poor health outcomes like trouble sleeping or high blood pressure.
Keep an eye out for patients who may be struggling with alcohol abuse, and if you feel it’s needed in your community, create an outreach program with resources for people who are trying to quit drinking.
Focus on mental health
The threat of the global pandemic has understandably caused the mental health of many to take a dip. The CDC found that depression is on the rise, and NPR has reported that the high level of stress caused by the pandemic is also causing additional health issues, like headaches, hair loss, and consistent nausea.
At your pharmacy, you can be proactive in promoting good mental health practices in your pharmacy. You might already provide health screenings for conditions like high blood pressure. You can also screen for mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety. Take special care to offer these screenings to people who are particularly affected by the pandemic, like frontline workers and people living with chronic illnesses.
You can also get trained in Mental Health First Aid, which can help you recognize when patients are struggling with mental health issues and teaches you the best way to intervene.
In addition to these mental health resources, you can also stock products that encourage patients to engage in self-care. In a chaotic time, something simple like a bath bomb, scented candle, or sheet mask can provide crucial comfort.
The pandemic means that people are conscientiously changing their diets in order to maintain their overall health, according to a study of consumer behavior by ADM.
Take advantage of your patients’ zeal for healthy eating by becoming a resource for nutrition. One idea is to work with a dietician or nutritionist to create a virtual class on healthy eating that focuses on how to build healthy eating habits and what kind of nutritional deficiencies patients should be aware of.
Make sure you stock nutritional supplements, especially those that will help remedy common drug-induced nutritional deficiencies.
For patients that are looking to shed weight they put on during lockdown, offer weight loss counseling via Zoom. You can provide strategies for eating healthy and improving fitness that will help patients improve overall health outcomes.
An Independently Owned Organization Serving Independent Pharmacies
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.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) 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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