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Continue reading insights from Owner & Pharmacist in Charge Sarah McClain for insider advice on how to boost or begin your own program.
From a young age, Sarah McClain knew pharmacy was her natural fit. In 1945, Sarah’s grandfather purchased what is now Yost Pharmacy, and it has remained in the family ever since. Now co-owner with her brother, Sarah has worked at Yost in some capacity since age 13.
Like many pharmacies, Yost began their immunizations program with in-store flu shots. “That first commitment to pre-book flu shots is a little nerve-racking,” Sarah remembers. “You know, you’ve got a couple dozen people who have inquired, but how many people are actually gonna come in?”
But nerves weren’t the only hurdle. In the program’s infancy, Yost pharmacy saw pushback from physicians offices who saw them as competition. Thankfully, time was on their side. “I think we kind of really started ramping up our vaccine program as the physicians became more engaged in referring their patients to pharmacies for a quicker turnaround, sometimes better coverage, lower-cost option for getting their immunizations,” Sarah reflects.
In many cases, pharmacies can offer a better alternative for patients seeking vaccinations in terms of both cost and time. It is important to maintain relationships with physicians in your own community to ensure your pharmacy is the one they refer patients to.
Although they serve a very diverse community, Yost Pharmacy heavily provides for retirement communities, especially with off-site vaccination clinics. These events are beneficial for both patients and nursing staff. Sarah notes, “it kind of gives the nurses at the facilities opportunities to ask questions about products and services that they may either recommend to their patients or … whatever it may be to make their job easier.” These off-site flu clinics are also great ways to meet patients who end up transferring to your pharmacy.
Ready to get started for yourself? “Your first step is to make sure you’ve got the staff who have the appropriate qualifications to administer,” Sarah states. The next step is “making sure that you have the appropriate protocols and certifications in place for the vaccines you want to be able to provide and kind of deciding what that path is.” Yost Pharmacy relies on Cardinal for their resource for physician protocols. Reach out to your own wholesaler or supporting providers for similar resources.
Sarah further explains that the protocols will outline what types of supplies and staff you need in order to begin administering. Finally, leveraging physician relationships is important so that your pharmacy has someone to sign off on those protocols.
Although it is easy to get overwhelmed with opportunity, Sarah explains that there is a benefit to starting with only flu or only in-house. “I think that my biggest piece of advice would be don’t hesitate to engage in it on a small scale to begin with.” She urges, “Take it slow and get comfortable with the program. Because once you’re comfortable, it’ll be much easier to grow it.”
For more resources and immunization workflow integrations – check out some of our connected vendors HERE!