By offering vaccines year-round instead of only during the typical flu season, community pharmacies can maximize profits and help patients live healthier lives.
It’s no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention that community pharmacies are having a difficult time in the current health care landscape. Diminishing margins, inflationary pressure, and direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees and reforms have led to increased financial strain for many. However, there are different strategies and programs that independent pharmacies can use to ease the burden.
Transaction Data Systems—which recently merged with Cardinal Health’s Outcomes business—works on delivering integrated clinical solutions to community pharmacies through workflow software and management systems so pharmacies can focus on growing revenue and providing high-quality care for patients.
Pacience Edwards, PharmD, compliance manager at Transaction DataSystems, joined the July 2023 Total Pharmacy Solutions Summit to talk about how expanding vaccination programs can help increase a pharmacy’s profits. In her session titled “Inject Profit into Your Pharmacy by Maximizing Your Pharmacy Vaccination Program,” Edwards also discussed ways to help make the process easier.
“Missed vaccine opportunities, including shingles and pneumonia vaccines, that your patients may be due for is leaving revenue on the table,” Edwards said. “By offering vaccines to your patients, you’re able to have a year-round vaccination program, rather than just the flu season, to have a more consistent revenue and help with staffing considerations. By providing vaccines to your patients, you’re able to help them live healthy and active lives.”
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacies stepped up in a big way when their communities needed them most. Pharmacies built infrastructure to protect both patients and providers, adapted their workflows to accommodate the rush of many new patients, and hired additional staff who took the role of frontline health care workers to provide patients with the COVID-19 vaccine.
The role that community pharmacies took during the pandemic built on a long history of pharmacists providing vaccines to their communities. Pharmacists are trusted by patients and providers to handle giving vaccines in their communities, which makes implementing a year-round vaccination program a great solution to increase profits.
Although this might sound like an easy thing to accomplish, creating a year-round vaccination program can be difficult. The process is much more complicated than simply getting shots into arms. Patients need to be identified, recruited, and scheduled. This is then followed by a prescreening process where paperwork is filled out. Once the vaccine is finally administered, the necessary reporting and billing process must be completed. The entire process can often put a lot of strain on pharmacy staff.
To aid with the process, Transaction Data Systems offers a comprehensive solutions platform to help pharmacies optimize vaccination programs. The platform optimizes pharmacy enablement and patient engagement so pharmacists can improve outcomes and adherence and maximize clinical opportunities. Edwards said the goal is to empower pharmacists to grow and maintain their patient base through the optimal delivery of care.
One benefit of Transaction Data Systems’ platform is the immunization information integration system, which is combined with clinical criteria and guideline recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. This platform provides an automated way to accurately identify patient information and incorporate it into the daily workflow of pharmacy staff members. Staff can view the information and then reach out to patients to let them know about any vaccine opportunities.
“Pharmacies are a great resource for patients to let them know what vaccines are available, as well as the research behind why those vaccinations are recommended for them” Edwards said. “This [conversation] is a 2-way discussion between the pharmacist and the patient to ensure that they are getting the appropriate vaccinations for them.”
The solutions platform from Transaction Data Systems also features a scheduler tool that can help pharmacists and staff schedule appointments; collect the necessary contact, insurance, and primary care physician information; and allow patients to view all the vaccinations that are currently being offered and schedule one that fits within their preferred time. It also allows patients to fill out paperwork beforehand from the comfort of their own home, saving time when they come into the pharmacy to get the vaccination.
Once a vaccination is completed, the platform has automated offerings that allow pharmacists the opportunity to file vaccine administration reporting, such as registry reporting and primary care physician notification of administration. Edwards also noted that the platform is adding a vaccination medical billing solution that is planned to be available in the near future. All the features within the solutions platform from Transaction Data Systems gives time back to the pharmacist so they can provide the best care to their patients.
“Expanding your vaccination program can help your patients be healthier, as well as keep your bottom line healthier,” Edwards said. “Fortunately, there are so many valuable tools available to help make expanding your vaccination program even easier.”