Put flu season prep on your summer calendar

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Prepare NOW for immunization success this fall

In brief:

  • Flu shots are a big opportunity that most pharmacies aren’t fully capitalizing on
  • A key to immunization success: prepare in advance
  • Preparation includes operations, staffing, marketing and more
  • Start preparing now for flu shot success this fall

Winning teams don’t just show up on game day. They start planning for big games months in advance. They develop detailed plans and everyone on the team focuses on executing those plans.

Flu shot season is a huge opportunity for your team. Fully capitalizing on this opportunity requires careful preparation that starts months in advance.

A reminder of the opportunity

Almost everyone needs a flu shot each year. But the average pharmacy misses out on 70% of immunization opportunities.1 Consider:

  • On average, vaccines can account for $23 in revenue per vaccination
  • Immunizations have one of the highest margins of clinical services pharmacies can offer
  • A typical pharmacy could boost gross profit by $38,000 by capturing missed immunization opportunities

Why prepare NOW

While peak flu shot season is a few months away, you should prepare NOW to:

  • Have on hand all the supplies you need
  • Engage in active marketing outreach well in advance
  • Develop detailed staffing and operational plans
  • Fully maximize this significant opportunity

Also, once you successfully implement flu shots, you can leverage that capability to offer immunizations year-round, providing an ongoing revenue stream.

How to prepare NOW

Plan and take advantage of tools to boost your vaccine business during flu season and beyond.

  • Health Mart’s Vaccine Starter Kit. If you’re just beginning to offer flu shots, Health Mart’s Vaccine Starter Kit offers six months of support from a vaccine specialist to guide you and includes state-specific regulatory information.

    Since state laws about administering vaccines change, be sure you are up to date. For example, this season you may be able to offer flu shots to younger patients. Also, ensure certifications and training are up to date for all pharmacists who will be administering vaccines.

  • VaccineComplete. As part of VaccineComplete, Heath Mart can provide an immunization collaborative practice agreement for your pharmacy within 48 hours of signing up. VaccineComplete can also help streamline operations by working with your pharmacy software to identify patients eligible for vaccines, update state registries and notify primary care providers. Otherwise, you’ll need to put those elements in place yourself.

Snapshot: Public Square Pharmacy, Jacksonville, Florida

Diego Gomez, who opened Public Square Pharmacy this year, signed up for VaccineComplete. This tool includes a collaborative practice agreement for immunizations. “It saved me the headache of having to find a physician,” Gomez said.

That gave him time to focus on outreach activities to grow Public Square’s vaccine business. For example, because immigrants applying for a green card must provide immunization records, Gomez has visited immigration lawyers to explain his pharmacy’s vaccine services and his store’s customer service.

For Gomez, a comprehensive immunization service is another part of a pharmacist practicing at the top of the profession, taking care of patients and closing gaps in care. “Patients feel comfortable knowing that they’re getting full service from my pharmacy,” he said.

Other important steps to prepare for flu season include:

  • Staffing. Train your staff to talk with patients about the value of the flu vaccine. Review “5 myths about flu shots.”
  • Billing. Check insurance plan billing now to ensure your staff knows what to do so you receive full pay for each shot.
  • Supplies. Technicians can use slow time during the summer to pre-pack supplies such as bandages for on-site clinics.
  • Marketing. Review your marketing plans for the upcoming season. Here are specific ideas to consider:
    • Think about how you will encourage regular flu shot patients to come in early and first-time recipients to come to your pharmacy for their flu shot.
    • Plan to remind patients on med sync to receive their flu shots when they pick up meds.
    • Mail postcards to patients who received flu shots last year, inviting them to come in early.
    • If you’re a Health Mart customer, visit the Marketing Hub on myHealthMart.com to download outreach letters, flyers and ads for flu season, including giveaways to market your pharmacy during clinics.
    • Have ads ready to go on multiple channels (e.g., social media, print, radio).
    • When the flu hits your community, be ready to emphasize prevention, such as talking with local media about why it isn’t too late for protection.

    From sidewalk signs to Facebook ads, be sure your pharmacy is the first one patients think about when they are ready for a flu shot.

  • On-site clinics. On-site clinics are a great way to deliver flu shots in bulk and to extend your presence into the community.

How to prepare FOR THE FUTURE

If your pharmacy has been providing only the flu shot, this season offers a great time to expand your immunization offerings and grow your business. Many of the types of immunizations your pharmacy could offer are listed below. You can bill some under Medicare Part B or Part D. Commercial insurers may also cover others, or private pay may offer them.

Immunizations can be a year-round revenue booster for your pharmacy.

Here’s an example of offering multiple shots at the same time:

  • Adults who are eligible for a pneumococcal vaccine can receive it at the same time as the influenza vaccine. One visit, two shots.
  • Or, if a patient needs a second pneumonia shot next year, add them to your system for a reminder to come back for that shot and their flu shot. Now one vaccine becomes four at your pharmacy.

Immunizations can be a year-round revenue booster for your pharmacy.

1 Data sourced from PrescribeWellness, from VaccineComplete brochure