Fill patient care gaps caused by COVID-19

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Your pharmacy can meet the need for immunizations, screenings, prescriptions and more
In brief:

  • The pandemic has disrupted healthcare for 76% of Americans
  • Patients have cancelled appointments, delayed shots, skipped drug refills and lost insurance
  • A campaign to “Stop Medical Distancing” encourages people to take care of themselves and see providers
  • Highlight the healthcare services patients can safely receive at your pharmacy

Because of COVID-19, patients aren’t taking care of themselves

Stay-at-home efforts have helped protect people from coronavirus but have increased other health issues.


How coronavirus is disrupting healthcare:1

  • 76% of Americans reported some healthcare disruption from coronavirus
  • 31% of patients have cancelled appointments
  • 9% have skipped or delayed a prescription refill; 7% have rationed medication to delay a refill
  • 4% experienced a change in insurance

Among parents, 16% said their children did not have recommended immunizations because COVID-19 caused scheduling problems.2 Local numbers can be even worse. New York City reported a 63% drop in child vaccine rates and California had more than a 40% drop. A pediatrics expert termed the situation a “potential public health crisis.”3


Some of the consequences are immediate as 11% of Americans say their medical condition has worsened.4

The solution: Stop medical distancing

To get care back on track, many leading healthcare organizations — including McKesson and Health Mart® — are supporting the “Stop Medical Distancing” public service campaign. The message of this campaign: Keep social distancing to stop COVID-19 but take care of yourself so you can care for others.

See this video about Stop Medical Distancing.
See McKesson’s announcement about participation in the Stop Medical Distancing campaign.

Assuring patients your pharmacy offers a safe alternative for care is good for them and your business.

Here are three ways your pharmacy can keep patients healthy during the pandemic:

  1. Be an immunization booster. If you’ve delayed starting a vaccine program, now’s the time to get started. From flu shots to routine immunizations that patients are missing because they don’t want to go to a doctor’s office, set up your pharmacy to take care of their needs. If you still need to start a vaccine program or obtain a CLIA waiver to offer testing, start the process today.

    New permissions for pharmacists On August 19, 2020, HHS announced that pharmacists in all 50 states are now allowed to give childhood vaccinations. This action, which is intended to prevent outbreaks of measles and other preventable diseases, preempts restrictions in 22 states.5

  2. Check current coverage. If patients are missing refills, have a conversation to uncover the reason and offer solutions. Talk with patients about the consequences of skipping medications for conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, even if they feel fine. If they’ve had a change in insurance or income, work to find options that fit their budget, from a lower-cost therapy to manufacturer discounts. Parents, for example, may be unaware of the federally funded Vaccines for Children program.
  3. Build a bridge of services. Flu, strep or COVID? Answering that question will be critical to ensuring that patients receive proper care in the coming months. But if health systems are swamped or patients fear going to doctors’ offices, they won’t receive the tests they need.
    Be ready to fill those needs with point-of-care testing. Also, think about adding other services patients may not be getting, such as cholesterol screening. (See “Opportunities in point-of-care testing” for more information on how to offer these services.)

If you have already established vaccination and already offer various clinical services, ramp up your marketing so patients know about these services. Communicate that your pharmacy isn’t just a “drug store” and that you do far more than just fill prescriptions. You help keep patients and their families healthy through vaccinations, point-of-care tests, screenings and more.

Use this unique moment to fill the gaps that exist and help patients remain healthy.

1Survey Shows How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Disrupted Americans’ Healthcare,” Amanda Nguyen,
GoodRx, June 16, 2020.
2Exclusive: 16% of Parents Haven’t Vaccinated Their Kids Due to COVID-19,” Zlati Meyer, Fast Company, July 31, 2020.
3Child Vaccinations Plummet During COVID-19 Pandemic, Worrying Michigan Health Officials,” Sarah Lehr, Lansing State Journal, July 30, 2020.
4Nearly Half of Americans Delayed Medical Care Due to Pandemic,” Elizabeth Lawrence, Kaiser Health News, May 27, 2020.
5HHS Expands Access to Childhood Vaccines during COVID-19 Pandemic,” HHS Press Office, August 19, 2020.