Now that it’s officially flu season, it’s common to see signs advertising flu shots in your doctor’s office, pharmacy, and even your grocery store. Immunizations are actually a fairly new pharmacy practice. In 1995, only 5 states allowed pharmacists to vaccinate patients. Within the past two decades, all 50 states have passed immunization legislation. As community pharmacists document and prove their impact on patient health, the Scientific Technologies Corporation (STC) can make them a key player in the public health sector by allowing pharmacists to update state registries as they vaccinate patients.
STC has actively worked to provide public health solutions for the past 30 years, which cover vaccine-preventable diseases, outbreaks, and notifiable disease reporting. CEO Mike Popovich recalls how STC made a surprising impact during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “We essentially connected all the doctors and nurses in the country to the Louisiana immunization registry. It enabled them to have access to medical records when people needed health care. It was probably, in many folks’ instances, the last piece of health information they had,” he says. STC has had a hand in aiding public health in instances like the 2016 Zika virus outbreak, reporting for Anthrax, and most notably, the H1N1 flu virus in 2009. “We were doing a lot of work in immunization registry, and H1N1 opened the door for pharmacists to begin working with public health to provide influenza immunizations,” explains Mike.
As CEO, Mike works to provide vision, direction, and strategy so STC can remain relevant in the ever-evolving industry. As STC’s involvement with pharmacies grew, he noticed that pharmacists played an important role in immunizations. That’s when they decided to shine a light on pharmacists and their impact. “Immunizations give pharmacists the opportunity to engage folks in other health conversations,” Mike observes. He cites diabetes as an example. “It’s critical for a diabetic patient to be fully immunized. Otherwise, they’re going to catch an illness, and diabetes will only compound the problem. The next thing you know, you’ve lost somebody. That’s just not acceptable!” To figure out just how much impact the community pharmacy story has, STC collaborated with five pharmacies in 2014 to study patients who came in for flu shots over a three-month period. With the Immslink platform, pharmacists could check the patients’ vaccine histories in less than two minutes. Of the accessible histories, 84% were found due for vaccinations. Within this study, 14% of patients chose to receive the additional immunizations they needed. Todd Watkins, President of STC, is optimistic that this percentage will rise. “We believe that as we expand the pharmacists’ knowledge of the registry and the interoperability with their current pharmacy setting, the percentage of customers who will accept additional vaccinations will quickly double or triple – to 30 or 40% – and continue to climb from there,” says Watkins.
STC is the only company actively working in the public and private health immunization ecosystem in the country, according to Mike. “What we’re doing is changing and disrupting traditional public health and how pharmacists typically use data and give immunizations,” he concludes. “I think Immslink is a mechanism that is providing information so both pharmacists and patients can be empowered to make smart choices.” STC’s Immslink can help pharmacists be more proactive with their patients’ overall health. By receiving real-time data from public health registries, pharmacists can offer their expertise to patients, who in turn build loyalty around a health care provider who is actively involved and informed in their lives.
Is your pharmacy ready for flu season? Click here to learn how STC’s Immslink can make you the top immunization provider in your community!