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Independent Pharmacy is leading the COVID vaccine rollout

independent pharmacy vaccine rollout

Independently owned pharmacies have transitioned from a primary focus on filling prescriptions to transitioning to healthcare professionals.  Today, they offer a wide-range of clinical services while playing a much larger role in patient health.  No longer are community pharmacists seen as “prescription fillers,” but often a first line of defense for everyday health concerns.  Over the past year, independently owned community pharmacies across the US have shown us what they are capable of.  Figuring out ways to safely provide patients with their medications, order and stock PPE as well as OTC products, and even offering contactless pickup and delivery options, pharmacies went above and beyond to ensure their patients continued to be properly cared for.  Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities that arose for community pharmacies was to begin offering immunizations.

Independently owned pharmacies are better positioned to provide their communities with vaccination services.  They continue to outperform large chain pharmacy’s at delivering better quality care to patients.  Between patients having easier access to community pharmacists, and community pharmacists having more time to spend with patients, their part in the COVID vaccine rollout can be much larger than the chain pharmacies.  Independent pharmacy has been, and continues to be proactive, especially when it comes to the pandemic.  According to the Washington Post “The vaccination results in West Virginia and North Dakota have prompted wave of national news stories, noting how startling it is that two rural states relying on local drugstores—the epitome of the old-timey “mom and pop” stereotype—have rocketed far ahead of states like Massachusetts and Virginia, with their networks of supposedly sophisticated chain pharmacies that have largely replaced independents.”  The Washington post also notes that “independent pharmacies have been outperforming their larger rivals all along.”  If you haven’t already started offering vaccines in your pharmacy there is no better time than now.  Planning ahead can help you to be ready once your pharmacy is licensed and ready to go.  Keep in mind that pharmacists are able to provide far more than just the COVID vaccine—with many pharmacies offering flu shots, shingles vaccines, the pneumonia vaccine, Tdap, and many more, this is a tremendous opportunity for pharmacies to build new revenue streams into their business.

Having a plan in place and coordinating with your software system vendor will streamline your vaccine rollout. Some of the ways you can prepare your pharmacy for immunizations is to set yourself up to electronically report administration of vaccines.  Each state has its own list of requirements depending on the type of vaccine; however, all states are mandated to report COVID vaccine administration. Datascan pharmacy software is fully integrated to automatically and electronically submit vaccine administration to all states, saving you time from having to manually report.  Datascan’s innovative technology also helps you to set up text and email alerts to remind patients when it’s time to come in for a follow up appointment.  Depending on the vaccine, patients may need to schedule a series of appointments or follow up, and Datascan’s software makes it easy and efficient to manage.  To assist pharmacies quickly and efficiently fill and adjudicate vaccine prescriptions, Datascan offers vaccine templates.  An option that allows pharmacies to set defaults for vaccines such as quantity, SIG code, day supply, incentive fees, professional service DUR codes, and even link a protocol physician.  Templates are one way to fill a large volume of vaccine prescriptions quickly and efficiently.

We continue to see community pharmacy evolve and shift towards more clinical care and as this continues, owners will need to plan for the future.   The pandemic has shined a light on the necessity of community pharmacy, especially with the rollout of the vaccine.  Working together with your pharmacy software vendor, you can come up with an easy, efficient, and affordable plan and be prepared to continue to help your communities and patients in more ways than you ever imagined.