As an industry, we’ve always known that community pharmacy has provided superior patient care and customer service; during the current COVID-19 crisis, now is the time for your pharmacy to stand out as never before.
In other countries, pharmacies have been one of the very few retail operations still operating during quarantines. While we don't know if this will be the case in the United States, it is a very real possibility.
Listed below are some tips to keep in mind while helping to ensure the safety of yourself, your staff, and your patients:
We are all accustomed to having a friendly pharmacy staff that interacts directly with patients on a daily basis. However, during the current outbreak, you will want to minimize exposure to your patients, specifically those who are at the highest risk. As such, consider utilizing only curbside service, drive-through only service, and deliveries. In fact, now is the perfect time to promote your pharmacy's delivery services if you offer them. Let patients know that they can call your pharmacy not only for their prescriptions but also for over the counter meds that they may need to fight the virus.
Communicate with patients
Communication with your patients is key during this outbreak. If you decide to temporarily halt walk-in service your pharmacy, post a notice on the front door that lets patients know how you are currently operating. Now is also a good time to make use of your patient communication services; PrescribeWellness is offering a free one-time patient communication campaign, available to any pharmacy. Also make the most of your social media presence to let patients know what’s happening. Below is a sample Facebook post from APCI member Chad’s Payless Pharmacy in Florence, Ala., which you can modify to fit your pharmacy's particular situation:
Our pharmacy has considered the threat that COVID-19 poses to public health, and we are implementing strategies to minimize exposure to our patients, especially those who are most susceptible to the virus. Beginning Monday, March 16th, our pharmacy will only serve our patients with curbside service and deliveries. While no patients will be allowed to shop inside, by calling our pharmacy at (256)-766-3298, we can begin to prepare your orders for both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Once prepared, your orders will be brought outside to you when you arrive or will be delivered to your home.
We will keep normal store hours at this time. Mondays through Fridays 9:00am until 6:00pm, and Saturdays 9:00am until 1:00pm.
Protect yourself and your family from exposure. Stay home unless you have to get necessary supplies. Remember to practice good hand hygiene to help slow the spread of the virus.
Thank you to all of our patients for your understanding during this time. And thank you for choosing Chad’s Payless Pharmacy, where our family cares for your family.
Use preventative measures in-store
This goes without saying, but wash your hands frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, and keep your distance from co-workers in the pharmacy. You can't take care of patients if you're sick yourself.
Stay up-to-date on state, federal, and PBM statements
All states at this time have issued emergency declarations or proclamations that will affect how pharmacies will operate at this time, dealing with emergency and early refills and more. PBMs are expected to release statements on practices shortly. Additionally, some federal regulations are being loosened, such as the FDA's decision to allow compounders to make hand sanitizer. Pay attention to your state board of pharmacy regarding what you can and cannot do during the epidemic. APCI will be working to provide as much up-to-date information as possible.
Be kind to your suppliers
McKesson is working diligently to fulfill orders the best they can in an expedient manner. We understand that some daily deliveries are being delayed and that there are order limitations on some front-end and over-the-counter products. It is our understanding that prescription medications are not in shortage at this time.
Look for notifications from McKesson and please be patient with our suppliers as they are doing the best they can to keep your pharmacies stocked during this unprecedented event.
Rely on APCI
APCI is your co-op, and we are here for you. Listed below are direct contact names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the people who can assist you during this time.
Clinical issues: Jeff Church (205) 547-3964 or email@example.com /Allison Souders (205) 277-6157 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Membership Services and Rebate/Dividend Questions: Mark Million (931) 797-1836 or email@example.com or your APCI Account Executive
HealthMart Atlas: Jodi Eldred (800) 824-1763, option 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
APCI Choice (enrollments, etc.): Angie Shirley (205) 277-1496 or email@example.com
Claims Reconciliation: Erica Hoffman (205) 277-1483 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Marketing: Danny Slade (205) 277-1073 or email@example.com
Front End: Paul Bruno (205) 277-1080 or firstname.lastname@example.org
APCI Website Issues (logins): Richard Kirby (205) 277-1078 or email@example.com
Retail Operations (PRO): Jason Locklier (205) 907-6583 or firstname.lastname@example.org