Customers will soon realize the benefit and convenience of being able to receive so many vaccines at the pharmacy. Schaefer also recommended developing a checklist of vaccines that have been administered and faxing it to physicians as a reminder that they can send patients to your pharmacy for immunizations.
With so much disruption in the pharmacy space, Schaefer advises independent pharmacies to capitalize on unique offerings that can separate themselves from the pack.
“With Amazon entering the pharmacy marketplace, competition from online retailers, mail order and declining reimbursements, why not offer a service that is immune to all those issues? Offering year-round immunizations is both personally and professionally satisfying as well as a welcome addition to your bottom line,” Schaefer said.
Melody Ann Savley, RPh, and her husband are the owners of Alps Pharmacy in Springfield, Missouri, which offers several immunizations, including influenza, shingles, pneumococcal, tetanus, hepatitis A and B and meningitis. Savley said they increased their flu vaccinations by providing clinics at workplaces and offering immunizations to about 300 employees. Alps uses a questionnaire and their state registry to determine which immunizations patients need. Additionally, the pharmacy consults the H-A-L-O chart from the Immunization Action Coalition to help make decisions regarding appropriate vaccines for patients.5 The factors include health, age, lifestyle and occupation.5
The pharmacists at Alps regularly ask their patients about vaccines as part of their clinical work while completing medication therapy management and when doing sync calls.
“We believe in getting the word out to your physicians and community about the vaccinations you stock,” Savley said. “We find a lot of physicians send business our way because they know we stock the immunizations and feel comfortable administering them. I would call on your local businesses and schools to let them know what you can do for them. Market your pharmacy!”
The bottom line is that independent pharmacies can not only help increase vaccination rates but also boost revenue opportunities. The key is to start slow and gradually increase services. Marketing is also imperative, and developing relationships with local physicians can help to expand immunization services.