Are you offering vaccinations at your pharmacy? If not, an immunization program is a great place to start expanding the clinical services you offer at your store. Especially during the pandemic, pharmacies have grown in their recognition as a valuable contributor to public health. Pharmacies have played an instrumental role in administering the COVID-19 vaccine and expanding access for all members of the population. Any additional enhanced service you can provide at your independent pharmacy, including immunizations, will contribute to the perceived value of your business. You want to be seen as a one-stop shop for healthcare - by offering multiple services and having multiple touch points with your patients, you can increase patient loyalty and retention.
For many people, their local pharmacist is their most accessible healthcare provider. Getting immunized at a pharmacy is a convenient way for patients to stay on top of their health needs. It’s easy to just stop in at the local pharmacy, grab a couple of OTC items, and get your vaccinations done. Pharmacies should be taking advantage of this opportunity by offering a variety of vaccinations and avidly marketing this to their community. In addition to the current hot ticket item, the COVID-19 vaccine, pharmacists can offer other vaccines such as Influenza, Shingles, HPV, Tdap, Hepatitis A & B, MMR, Meningitis, Chickenpox, Pneumonia, and Polio. Most pharmacies start with offering the basic seasonal flu shot as a way to get their program started with a high-demand vaccine. Check this interactive map for more information on pharmacists’ vaccination authority in your home state.
In the US, early childhood vaccination rates are relatively high, but coverage percentages dip down low in adulthood. For this reason, it is crucial for all healthcare providers to help by spreading awareness, educating the public, and making vaccines more readily available for all members of the population. In addition to providing a valuable service to your community and contributing to public health, administering vaccines is a great way to add new streams of revenue into your business. Pharmacists can get reimbursement for the vaccine itself as well as administrative fees - which include the pharmacists’ time and supplies needed to complete the injection.
Simplifying Immunizations with Your Pharmacy Software
Starting and maintaining your own vaccination program doesn’t have to consume all of your staff’s time. Your pharmacy software is there to help save you time and simplify your process. By setting up the proper steps in your pharmacy management system, you can make more meaningful use of your staff’s time and get them out there vaccinating patients instead of being stuck at the computer. Administering vaccinations at an independent pharmacy requires steps such as data entry, reporting, reimbursement, and appointment scheduling. These are all things that can be streamlined through your pharmacy software.
- Data Entry and Workflow — It takes mere seconds to get a shot into a patient’s arm, yet this simple act is followed by minutes of paperwork and data entry. Extrapolated to hundreds of patients, that time adds up. By automating data entry and simplifying steps in vaccination workflow, your pharmacy software should help you cross all your Ts and dot all your Is in a quick, reliable way.
- Reporting Vaccination Data — Pharmacies are required to regularly and promptly report patient vaccination data to state IIS registries. This ensures that the pharmacy stays compliant with state laws and contributes to capturing data for the betterment of public health. Most pharmacy software vendors will integrate with companies such as STC Immslink and Script Management Partners in order to remove a step in the process and prevent the need for “double-reporting.” Instead of exiting the software to report to your registry, the integration will allow you to easily submit data to registries from within your software system.
- Submit Claims for Reimbursement - Your pharmacy software should enable you to submit claims for reimbursement on your vaccination services, including the cost of the vaccine itself as well as any other supplies and administrative fees.
- Suggest Other Vaccinations — By integrating with state IIS registries, you will be able to have readily available patient vaccination history. You will be able to see which vaccinations a patient has not yet received, and then make those recommendations to the patient. Use this opportunity to mention suggested vaccinations when a patient comes into the pharmacy to pick up their medications, or while they are already in the pharmacy to get another vaccine.
- Patient Intake and Consent Forms - Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. Can your software help make your life easier? Check if your software system has the capability to create custom forms and/or store these documents and attach them to patient profiles. This can be helpful in creating and storing patient intake forms and consent forms during the vaccination process.
- Appointment Scheduling — Especially due to recent COVID-19 vaccinations, many software vendors are beginning to incorporate appointment scheduling capabilities into their native system or offer 3rd party integrations. Having an organized schedule of appointments can help you and your staff plan out and streamline your workflow, as well as provide convenience to your patients by allowing them to easily schedule vaccination appointments.
- Overall Patient Health — Receiving regular vaccinations is an important part of preventative care. These vaccinations can be documented in a patient’s eCare Plan as a pharmacist care intervention. Identifying opportunities for vaccination, educating the patient, and administering the vaccination are all crucial steps in providing complete patient care and contributing to overall health and wellness.
Interested in starting your own pharmacy immunization program? Check with your state board of pharmacy for state-specific certification and training requirements. In addition to completing the legal requirements, selecting the right pharmacy software system is important to ensure that you and your team will be able to save time and money by having efficient processes. Less time entering data means more time with patients and more revenue for your business.