It’s been months since COVID-19 first shook all of our lives. Try to think back to the beginning of this year – January probably seems like it was ages ago. The year 2020 has been eventful to say the least, and it has brought many short-term and long-term changes along with it.
Throughout all the uncertainty, pharmacies have been on the frontlines protecting their communities every day. The core structure of independent pharmacies has shifted, with many aspects probably here to stay for the long run. There are several ways that the pandemic has altered the world of pharmacy and emphasized the value that pharmacies bring to their communities:
Stepping Up to Fill the Gaps
Local pharmacies wasted no time stepping up to the plate when they were needed most. Teams like the one at Tarrytown Pharmacy in Austin, TX have been thinking creatively to solve new problems and safely continuing to help their patients. We also saw pharmacies compound hand sanitizer in response to shortages and quickly start offering safe COVID-19 testing to prevent the spread in their communities.
Better Communication and Collaboration
Communication has strengthened both internally within the pharmacy and externally among its healthcare partners. Pharmacy teams have worked together to adjust to new workflows and procedures involving contactless services like curbside and drive-thru. It has become even more important to get to know the other healthcare providers in your community and express the value you can provide by collaborating together. In this clip from the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast, our guest Tripp Logan emphasizes the importance of being nimble and creating relationships by networking in your community.
Shift in Services and Customer Experience
The customer experience has transformed due to a decrease in face-to-face contact. Instead of letting quality of service decline, pharmacies have adjusted their strategy to give their patients exactly what they need during this time. Curbside, drive-thru, and delivery services have become more prominent, as well as increased communication between a patient and the pharmacy. Technology has become a crucial part of facilitating this, and continuing to find new ways to build a new personalized customer experience.
Greater Focus on Vaccination + POC Testing
The value of pharmacists continues to be emphasized by spreading recognition of their capabilities and unique community positioning. A big push has been made by several national pharmacy organizations to successfully allow pharmacists to administer a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available in order to prepare for faster, more widespread coverage. Pharmacies have also been a vital part in increasing access to COVID-19 point-of-care testing – the most critical part of managing the spread of the disease before a vaccine is approved. In order to remove any obstacles, the tests have been CLIA-waived and financial reimbursement has been implemented for pharmacies. If you still need to certify your pharmacy for POC testing, visit our page on How to Obtain a CLIA Certificate of Waiver.
Lessons Learned for Future Preparedness
The sudden outbreak of this pandemic exposed many vulnerable areas of our healthcare system and brought attention to changes that needed to be made. We have learned difficult lessons, but now we must take these lessons and see how to move forward. In addition, the pandemic has also shown the strength and perseverance of healthcare professionals. They have remained agile and committed to protecting their patients and their communities.