The pandemic has created a unique situation as the entire population is looking to get vaccinated at the same time, so pharmacies are seeing more traffic than they typically would. While the process can be difficult and exhausting, there is a silver lining of opportunity. Vicki Einhellig, CEO of Good Day Pharmacy in Colorado, joined us on the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast where she explained how her team is making the pitch to potential customers during vaccination:
“They’re mostly not our customers. We see that as an opportunity to introduce [our pharmacy].”
Einhellig and her team have noticed the same trend among the people they are vaccinating at their pharmacies. “They’re mostly not our customers. We see that as an opportunity to introduce [our pharmacy],” she says. “There’s a lot to communicate to them about…vaccination, but they do get exposure to our pharmacists and technicians at that time. We have a handout we give them about who we are and some of the other things that we do…We want them to know all the different things we can partner with them on – not just prescriptions. There’s a lot of things we can do to help them with their health.” This could also be a good time to mention other vaccinations your pharmacy offers. It’s all about making the introduction and letting potential customers know that you are there to help them a variety of other services.
Your main focus should be making a good first impression and just making that initial connection between your staff and the new patient. If this is their first interaction with your pharmacy, the whole process should be seamless and leave them wanting to come back to your pharmacy. You want them to remember your pharmacy the next time they have a prescription to fill, need another vaccine, or need to pick up some OTC items. Everything from your website and social media presence to the in-store vaccination process and interactions with your pharmacy staff should all be aimed towards increasing that customer’s satisfaction with your store. Like Vicki Einhellig’s team, you may consider handing out a one-page sheet of information on what your pharmacy offers, your social media accounts, and even some existing customer testimonials. You can also use word-of-mouth marketing by getting to know the patients and casually talking to them about your pharmacy when they come into the store for their appointment. As an independent community pharmacy, your competitive advantage is personalized customer service – so your focus should be on building that personal relationship.
Along with these interactions, you will also be collecting patient information from these new patients which will need to be entered in your software system. When entering new patient data into your pharmacy software, PioneerRx users can use the newly released Bulk Patient Process feature to upload patient data in bulk. This saves time by allowing users to upload an excel sheet with patient information, then the software automatically uses that data to create new patient profiles within PioneerRx. When collecting patient data such as phone numbers and email addresses, just remember to keep your usage of data within the scope of care. There have been some people speaking out about privacy concerns with pharmacies collecting patient information, however, these articles have primarily been aimed at chain pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens. Some privacy attorneys point out that pharmacies have a wide range to collect and use patient data, as long as they do not mine and sell sensitive, protected health information. The CDC has released guidance under their COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement Requirements regarding the commercial use of vaccine recipient data. It states that “Providers are prohibited from using any data gathered in the course of their participation in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program, including any Protected Health Information or other Personally Identifiable Information, for commercial marketing purposes.” It goes on to state that this is not intended to limit non-commercial interactions, meaning that communication about the patient’s care is allowed. In other words – don’t spam patients with advertisements and mass marketing campaigns.
Independent community pharmacies are known for making personal connections, and these types of mass marketing tactics don’t typically align with their business strategies in the first place. Patient communication should be tailored to each individual’s needs and initiated with their consent. That being said, the best marketing during Covid vaccination happens when the patient is in front of you. You want them to like your pharmacy on their own, and make the realization based on their own personal experience. You should supplement this by building on the actual value your pharmacy can bring to each potential new patient and showing exactly why you are different from the chain pharmacies. This is why the focus should be on making that first connection so that next time they are unhappy with their current pharmacy, they’ll remember the amazing experience they had with your team.
For more information on how to make the most of these new patient interactions, NCPA has a course on Sharing Your Value Beyond a Vaccine. You can access this free course by logging in to your NCPA member account, or simply making a new account for free. This virtual course is led by the NCPA Sr. Director of Store Operations and Marketing and the NCPA Sr. Director of Program Development.