The 2017 flu season is here, and getting a flu shot early gives everyone the best chance against coming down with it this year. Offering the flu shot to pharmacy customers provides a valuable service to the surrounding community. Providers support pharmacists filling the gap, as they are able to reach patients after-hours and reduce the workload in clinical settings. Many corporate pharmacies set benchmarks for the number of flu shots administered.
Here are some ways pharmacists can promote this important step that will keep their customers safer and healthier this flu season:
- Hang posters in the pharmacy and on community bulletin boards announcing that flu shots are available and why it’s important for everyone to be vaccinated.
- Use social media accounts, including the pharmacy’s Facebook page or Twitter account, to remind followers of the importance of getting a flu shot this year.
- Update phone on-hold messages to alert customers of the importance of having a flu shot.
- Affix stickers to prescription vials to remind customers to get a flu shot. This is particularly helpful for patients taking medication for conditions that make them more susceptible to the flu.
- Have stickers printed that announce, “I got my flu shot” along with the pharmacy name and give one to each customer who has a flu shot.
- Offer incentives to customers, such as a coupon for money off a purchase, like $10 off $20 if they get a flu shot.
- Create fact sheets and place them on counters and in waiting areas to educate customers of the importance of having a flu shot.
- Train staff about the benefits of having a flu shot and have them remind customers that flu shots are being offered at the pharmacy.
- Set up signs by the road to alert those passing by that the pharmacy has flu shots available.
With the right mix of promotions, pharmacies can expect to improve the success of their flu shot programs this season.
In recent years, there has been a shift in the U.S. health care system to a value-based system of care model. This model rewards providers based on the outcome of care versus the volume of patients seen. Pharmacies have also seen this shift, as they’re included in health care teams. The role of the pharmacist is to help patients with medication management to prevent adverse outcomes while working to meet clinical goals. This has led to the development of new quality metrics to measure performance and cost savings.
Assessing Performance through Metrics
The Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) has focused on developing performance measures to address the safe and appropriate use of medications. These metrics have been previously used to assess the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. They are now used to assess other programs since provisions in the ACA directed the implementation of bonus payments for Medicare Advantage health plans. The quality metrics are known as the CMS star ratings program.
Pharmacy networks play a critical role by working with Medicare drug plans through the utilization of PQA’s medication use metrics. The results of these metrics account for almost half of the summary ratings for Part D stand-alone prescription drug programs and approximately 20 percent of Medicare Advantage programs.
Why are These Metrics Important for Pharmacists?
The five required metrics to be reported by pharmacists concern medication safety and adherence, including:
- High-risk medications in seniors
- Appropriate treatment blood pressure with diabetes patients
- Adherence with:
- Oral medications for diabetes
- Cholesterol (statins) medications
- Blood pressure medications (reinangiotensin system antagonists)
PQA’s quality metrics are being used for accreditation through the Center for Pharmacy Practice Accreditation, which will be requiring pharmacies to report several quality metrics as part of their accreditation requirements. Pharmacists will need to engage with patients and speak with physicians if adherence issues are found.
Business trends often show that consumers will choose greener options when those options are made available. But pharmacies are not always known for being particularly green. It can be difficult to maintain a balance between being environmentally friendly and adhering to health and safety regulations. However, there are ways that pharmacies can become more sustainable.
Pharmacies generate a large amount of plastic waste. It is possible, however, to reduce the amount of plastic waste with a few simple steps, like:
- Ordering larger bottles of medications instead of several smaller bottles.
- Recycling plastic waste by sending it to recycling depots that will accept prescription bottles and empty blister packs.
Protecting the Water Supply
The presence of pharmaceutical drugs in water supplies can be traced to human excretion and improper disposal of medications. This poses a threat to natural ecosystems and living organisms. Educate customers on the best ways to dispose of medications to show your dedication to the community.
Communicating with Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
By expressing concern about the need for sustainable practices to manufacturers, it’s possible to advance dialogue about environmentally friendly solutions. Urging manufacturers to conduct more research of the effect of drugs on the environment will provide more answers to questions patients are asking.
Like any business, pharmacies consume energy and resources. If you own your building, you have more freedom to construct, install, or retrofit aspects of your facility. However, even renters can choose to implement more sustainable lighting, heating, and cooling solutions.
Learn more about the movement for environmentally sustainable pharmacy practices from the National Institute of Health. Has your pharmacy taken environmental initiatives? Share in the comments below.