How a Potential Second Wave of COVID will Affect Pharmacies
There is no denying that the global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone and every business in some way. As we try to come up with safe solutions to operate our businesses and get back to somewhat normal daily lives, there exists an absolute fear of a second wave destined to hit.
While pharmacies fortunately are deemed essential businesses and thus remained operational throughout this pandemic, it was not without extreme caution that independent pharmacies nationwide continued to service their customers and communities. Despite remaining open, pharmacies faced many challenges. For many, making accommodations to provide a safer and socially-distanced pharmacy came with a hefty price tag. Additionally, supply chain issues made it difficult for pharmacies to stock PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) like masks, gloves and sanitizer, along with other high-demand items. In order to be better prepared for a potential second wave of COVID, pharmacies are doing their best to stock up on essentials now, institute policies that comply with CDC guidelines, and also take extra safety measures to help patients feel comfortable while patronizing their businesses.
Independent pharmacy owners definitely did their part to help patients continue to receive the medications they needed, and offer any necessary OTC items safely. While everyone did their best to react to the first wave of COVID, there was so much uncertainty and fear forcing many to scramble. Now 5 months into the pandemic we’re at an advantage to be overly prepared, should we be hit with a second wave in the coming months.
Henry Ranger, owner of The Prescription Shoppe Pharmacy in Williamsburg Virginia, said his store saw a “big increase in curbside pickup” [during the pandemic], prompting them to “store a lot of credit cards so that we can pull this off.” Many independent pharmacy owners are getting ahead of the demand by reaching out to patients to collect credit card information, opt them into delivery, and arrange alternate options to in-store pickup. According to Ranger, The Prescription Shoppe also “limited the amount of people coming into the store, therefore lowering exposure risk.”
Datascan Pharmacy Software has helped pharmacies limit exposure by offering touch-less prescription pickup options with their point of sale and delivery systems. If we do face a second wave of COVID and infection rates rise, pharmacies will need to be prepared to limit in-store pickup and offer curbside options along with delivery. If your pharmacy is not already offering curbside or delivery, you may want to consider these options before you absolutely have to. Creating a safer in-store environment is also a great way to make sure customers feel safe in your pharmacy. Ranger explains how they “put up plexiglass barriers to prevent any type of airborne droplets to go from customer to employee and vice versa. We also wipe down everything and spray disinfectant on furniture in between customers to cut down on residual bacteria.”
Datascan Pharmacy Software is helping independent pharmacies leverage technology to improve efficiencies and help customers feel safe during these challenging times. The ability for customers to log into a mobile app and queue up their prescriptions right from their smartphone is a convenience your competition is already offering, and you can too with Datascan’s Mobile Scripts and Refill Application. The convenience of seeing a patient profile from anywhere, and have them send over refill requests to the pharmacy will only help build adherence, patient loyalty, convenience, and of course, help you fill more prescriptions, building your bottom line.
Streamlining your deliveries by using the Datascan Mobile Delivery solution, which ties directly into the pharmacy system, makes managing customer deliveries, collecting payment, and tracking what the driver owes back to the pharmacy easy. For customers that do not want to physically enter the store, you can offer curbside pickup while using our modified delivery application for pickup tracking and signature collection.
Simplifying the process of patients getting their maintenance medications by placing them on auto-refill, allowing the software to refill them when ready, as well as automatically reach out to physicians when there are no refills left on the prescription all working together will help ensure your patients’ loyalty to your business. Remember, many of your competitors will be offering numerous ‘touchless’ and ‘visitless’ solutions to patients for their medication and OTC needs. To stay in business and stay competitive, you must offer the same.
Stocking up on popular seasonal items like immune boosting supplements, vitamin C, Zinc, Elderberry, etc. and common cough and cold remedies is a must, especially before supply chain issues resurface and pharmacies have trouble stocking these types of items. Additionally, stocking PPE items like gloves, disposable masks, and disinfectant sprays and wipes will make sure your local patients continue to shop at your pharmacy and can purchase these hard-to-find items. Many pharmacies limited the number of PPE items per customer to ensure there was enough for all – this is a great idea moving forward!
Being prepared can make all the difference in your pharmacy and your ability to safely service your patients. The most fundamental things independent pharmacy owners need to do is to create a safe environment for staff and patients, establish protocols for safe in-store pick up, connect with your pharmacy software vendor to implement options for curbside pickup and delivery, and stock your stores with the right OTC products. If you haven’t already connected with your pharmacy software vendor about options and features to help prepare for COVID, don’t wait! Speak with Datascan, speak with your wholesalers, train your staff, and help your pharmacy survive and succeed!