If you have noticed a sudden increase of patients filling prescriptions for tamiflu in your pharmacy, then brace yourself: flu season is nowhere near over. The H3N2 virus is a particularly severe strain that has escalated the flu from “regional” to “widespread” within weeks. As physicians deal with crowded waiting rooms and high patient demand, this flu season is an opportunity for pharmacies to step up and become a one-stop shop for patients needing flu-related care.
If you’re not offering immunizations…
… then why aren’t you? They are a great revenue source for your store. Retail pharmacies, now more than ever, are becoming the preferred flu shot destination for patients. Because the antibodies administered through the vaccine require two weeks to fully activate, pharmacies should begin offering it in mid-September since flu season usually begins as early as October. However, it’s never too late to receive a flu shot. As the nationwide epidemic peaks in February, you should continue to advertise your pharmacy’s immunization services and pinpoint patients who need the vaccine the most — pregnant women, children, seniors, and those with long-term health conditions. Set up alerts within your pharmacy’s workflow that remind you to offer these patients a flu shot, and be sure your pharmacy’s dispensing system integrates with programs like Immslink to manage patient vaccination histories. Make sure you are reimbursed for your immunizations services, too!
Be upfront about the flu
If a patient already has the flu, offer them symptom relief along with their prescription. Set up a display that includes items like:
- Cough syrup
- OTC pain relievers with acetaminophen (to reduce fever and aches)
For those customers who have successfully avoided the flu, offer items like immunity-boosting vitamins, hand sanitizer, and face masks.
Test the Flu’s Limits
Thanks to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), pharmacists may now perform certain diagnostic tests within the pharmacy. Testing patients for ailments like the flu or even chronic diseases like Hepatitis C is possible with point-of-care (POC) testing. This can improve patient outcomes by accelerating the diagnostic process, providing treatment, and counseling the patient all with one visit to the pharmacy. POC testing is another great source of revenue for pharmacies, and it even opens the door to collaborative practice agreements with physicians.
Although the flu has become a widespread epidemic, it has created an opportunity for pharmacists to rise to the occasion and enhance the care and service they already show their patients.