With growing concern over the spread of coronavirus, legislators are turning towards community pharmacists to help slow COVID infections.
Yet many community pharmacies are already facing challenges that continue to hurt their business.
Last week we had the pleasure of sponsoring a free interactive webinar -- “How to Remain Competitive During COVID.” We were joined by Blair Thielemier, who led a candid conversation with three independent pharmacy leaders.
Did you miss the webinar?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Click here to watch a full recap of the webinar, or read the summary below.
Innovative Solutions During a Pandemic
One thing is clear for all pharmacists across the country -- the pandemic is changing the way patients interact with businesses. With many states experiencing surges in coronavirus cases, patients want to feel safe when getting their medications.
Joe Williams, independent pharmacy owner and panelist, shares his strategy to reach patients without compromising the health of his staff members.
“We found that during COVID one of the ways that we were going to be able to better care for our patients with our front lobby closed, was to start delivering to those patients that we would generally see inside the store,” says Joe Williams, owner of Brisson Drugs.
“We already had a pretty large delivery radius before COVID, mostly patients with large volumes or those that are on compliance packaging. We do have a RapidPakRx and I have had really good success with it,” says Williams.
Williams was able add more patients to his delivery program by using pouch packaging automation. With the RapidPakRx, packaging a 30-day med cycle can be done quickly and accurately. Each patient then receives his or her prescription once a month, limiting contact between staff and patient.
Chandra Patel, owner of Heritage Pharmacy, also uses the RapidPakRx to simplify his delivery service. With a growing focus on contactless delivery, Heritage Pharmacy also offers patients an option for contactless payments.
“We work on our patients about a week ahead, and we call them preemptively to ask them if they have any changes or anything of that nature,” says Patel.
“It is important to have compliance packaging or some type of compliance tool. I have a RapidPakRx in my location in Palm Springs, and it helps manage all the med sync patients very well,” adds Patel.
Adaptability is Key
“One thing that I love about pharmacy is that it's constantly evolving, but if we, as practitioners, don't evolve with the profession, you could get stagnant,” says Jennifer Shannon, owner of Lily’s Pharmacy.
One thing that COVID brought to Shannon’s attention, was the need for her pharmacy to place value on time. In order to meet greater patient demand, Shannon implemented an appointment-based system.
“Nobody does that for a pharmacy,” says Shannon. “COVID allowed us to realize where can we adapt right now for the future, because this isn't going away right now and we have to constantly start changing the way we practice anyway.”
With the addition of the appointment model, Shannon can control the number and time that patients come into her pharmacy each day. “It helps place some value on the people that are working in the pharmacy and gives everyone a safe feeling that they can come in and there's not going to be a line behind them,” adds Shannon.
Williams realized an opportunity to help improve patient heath outcomes, without drastically changing his workflow. “What we discovered is there are several different things that we can do as complementary sales for our patients to try to alleviate issues that they may be having,” says Williams.
“We've done that in the form of various nutraceuticals, CBD products, and then just over-the-counter drugs in general,” adds Williams.
Flu Season -- How to Prepare
There is a lot of uncertainty on when the coronavirus pandemic will end, but independent pharmacy owners need to prepare for the upcoming flu season. With many asymptomatic cases and testing limits in several states, ensuring that your community is up to date on the flu vaccine is critical in the fight against COVID.
“We have always had a big focus on immunizations, like a lot of other pharmacies, but one of the places that I try to stand out, is to create relationships with a lot of large employers in our area,” says Wiliams.
“I'll hand the business card to the guy that's working the tables at a restaurant and say that I'll do onsite flu shot clinics,” says Joe. “The way that I see it there is two big things -- number one is he wants his staff to show up at work, and number two I'm doing a public service by immunizing people that are around a great number of members of the public.”
Patel takes a different approach to encourage patients to come in for the flu vaccine.
“We actually do a pretty active flu vaccine campaign. We do a blanket text message and also phone call.” says Patel.
“Just recently we built a room for vaccinations, which is going to create more privacy and we will be able to actually manage more patients,” says Patel. “We do want to do an appointment-based model this year. That's kind of a core goal.”
Reimagining Your Competitive Strategy
Independent pharmacy faces a number of challenges that make it difficult to remain profitable.
Yet, as our panelists shared in the webinar, it is critical to adapt to your environment. Although the coronavirus pandemic has changed how patients interact with pharmacies, offering innovative solutions that meet current needs can help grow your business.
For pharmacy owners like Joe Williams and Chandra Patel, pouch packaging automation was the solution they needed to grow their delivery service in a time when contactless delivery is in high demand. If you would like to learn more about the RapidPakRx, please visit our product page.
To hear more about the experiences of Joe Williams, Chandra Patel, and Jennifer Shannon, please listen to the full webinar recording.
We want to thank Blair Thielemier for hosting this candid conversation, and our panelists for a fun and informative session!