August 18, 2020
Inside: Patients are facing unexpected health and financial challenges during COVID-19 — here’s why you should help.
There is no part of the United States that hasn’t felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Even towns that have been spared from major outbreaks have been put under a financial strain caused by the nationwide shutdown this spring.
As a healthcare and business leader, you have a unique chance to support your community during these hard times and help to navigate through the crisis.
There are many ways you can ease the burden of coronavirus for your community. If you have also been tightening your belt, there are even ways to help that don’t involve spending any money.
Many businesses still haven’t reopened their doors, or are operating at smaller scales, and because of that, unemployment rates are at historic highs.
Many pharmacies, on the other hand, are experiencing increased demand for new and existing services. Patients want their prescriptions to be delivered to their home or for a staff member to do personal shopping in the front end of the store.
As you try to meet these new expectations, turn an eye towards those in your community who may be out of work because of the pandemic. They could be your new delivery driver or help to run prescriptions out to the curb.
Back-to-school looks a lot different this year, and for parents who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut because of the pandemic, buying school supplies is an added financial stress they don’t need.
You can assist struggling parents in your community by holding a school supply drive. Give patients the option to add school supplies to their purchase or encourage them to give a small monetary donation that will go toward supplies. You can even offer to match donations up to a certain dollar amount.
Then before school begins, you can host a day where parents can come pick out what they need from the items donated by fellow community members.
Though the panic buying of March and early April has died down, there are still items that pharmacies are having a hard time keeping on the shelves. Patients are still eager to get their hands on products like Lysol, infrared thermometers, masks, and more.
Do your best to keep these items available at reasonable prices so your patients can have peace of mind. This might mean limiting the number of products one patient can buy, so a single person can’t come into the store and buy up your entire stock of disinfectant wipes, leaving everyone else in the lurch.
It also means not price gouging. In addition to being illegal, raising your prices on high demand items puts unnecessary financial stress on your patients and can ruin your reputation in the community.
Most small businesses are hurting right now, but if the locally owned stores in your area work together, you can get each other through the pandemic.
If a local retailer hasn’t been able to reopen its doors yet, you could sell some of their products in the gifts section of your store as a pop-up operation. In return, they can promote your flu shot service to their customers on social media.
Communicate with local business owners to find out where they’re hurting, and if there’s anything you can do — whether it’s telling your patients about them or providing much-needed PPE and sanitizers.
Since the pandemic began in March, blood donations have plummeted and America is experiencing a blood shortage. Blood centers often rely on drives at schools and corporate offices, many of which have gone remote because of the pandemic. Now that many hospitals have resumed non-urgent surgeries, there’s more need for blood than ever.
Make sure that your community has the blood they need by hosting a blood drive at your pharmacy. Market the blood drive through email and social media so your patients can make a point to stop by. You can even reward patients who participate in the drive with a coupon or a small freebie.
During these unpredictable times, one of the most important things you can do for your community is keep them educated with up-to-date information about the COVID-19 pandemic. With misinformation swirling around on the internet and television, your patients should be able to turn to you to help separate fact from fiction.
In addition, promote social distancing in your pharmacy by having patients and staff wear masks and encourage them to stay six feet apart. By modeling these good behaviors in your pharmacy, your patients will hopefully adopt them in the rest of their life.
Many families are tightening their belts and might think about skipping refills to make ends meet. By finding ways for patients to save on prescriptions, you can ensure better health outcomes and ease their worries about money—all while helping your pharmacy keep its script count up.
You can help patients save by switching them from a brand name drug to a generic alternative. If that’s not an option, assist them in finding manufacturer discounts.
If the cost of their medications is still a stretch, you could offer a payment plan or direct them to assistance programs designed to help low-income and disabled patients with the cost of medications.
Advise patients through insurance issues that could be costing them money. They may not be enrolled in the most affordable Medicare Part D plan or missing out on items that are HSA eligible. You can even let them know when their prescriptions will be cheaper without insurance.
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 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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