Pharmacies were at the forefront of getting communities tested and immunized through the pandemic. Through this initiative, patients and communities saw that pharmacists’ impact on health and wellness goes beyond the pill bottle. Unfortunately, pharmacy-related COVID-19 revenue is expected to decline over the next year by 60%-70%. It’s imperative to remember that Point-of-Care Testing (POCT) opportunities are not limited to COVID-19 tests. As the industry moves forward in 2022, independent pharmacies can maintain momentum by expanding into other POCT services.
In the past, many pharmacy owners have been reluctant to expand for a variety of reasons:
- Fear of how expanding services could affect relationships with providers
- Doubts about patients’ willingness to pay out of pocket
- Uncertainty about logistics involved in implementation
“We live in a time where there is a high demand from patients to find out what’s going on with themselves. The reality is that many primary care practitioners are struggling to meet that demand,” states Nandita Koodie, PDS Patient Care Services Program Manager.
The Impact of Point-of-Care Testing
Implementing patient care services allows your pharmacy to become a healthcare destination. A comprehensive POCT program allows patients to come into your pharmacy for a test and get help with prescriptions or other OTC solutions.
Impact on Your Patient
Establishing a comprehensive patient-care business model creates the opportunity to shift one-time customers to lifetime patients. The key is connecting through health and wellness solutions. In a 2020 retail health and wellness study, JD Power found that 75% of patients will utilize a service if their friends and family recommend it. Patients will return to your pharmacy establishment year after year for sniffles, upset stomachs, and earaches. Each time you help them, it’s likely they will tell their friends and family about your pharmacy.
Impact on Your Pharmacy Team.
Successful implementation of POCT services can’t be accomplished alone; you must lean into an empowered pharmacy team. Historically, independent pharmacies have offered scattered services. This approach results in overextended staff, an inconsistent customer experience, and inefficient workflows. Want to create an environment where employee engagement thrives? Train your staff to support and provide POCT services, and lean into your team to create workflows and systems that make sense for your operation.
Benefits of empowering your pharmacy staff include:
- Techs will have an expanded role and scope in the pharmacy business
- Front end workers will be more knowledgeable about OTC offerings
- Pharmacy staff will be proactive about identifying patients that can benefit from services
Eventually, your staff will be the driving force that brings your vision of a comprehensive POCT program to life.
Impact on Your Pharmacy Business
Pharmacists can do more than fill prescriptions. When you are thoughtful and selective, your POCT services can become a niche that differentiates your business. Showcase your clinical strengths and customer services to attract patients.
Your goals should be:
- Creating a more sustainable means for generating revenue
- Shifting from volume or product-focused to value-based care
- Differentiating your business by creating a solutions niche
What’s Involved in Implementing Pharmacy Point-of-Care Testing
PDS has done the heavy lifting to identify areas you need to consider as you establish or expand your POCT offerings. A properly designed program can improve the lives of your patients and create a lasting partnership with the medical providers in your area.
Pharmacy Workflow – Getting Efficiencies in Place
Implementing a new initiative in your pharmacy means organizing new workflows to maximize the strengths of you and your team. You’ll have to consider a process for patients to fill out paperwork and shift to a more appointment-based pharmacy model for some of these services. As you develop workflows to expand, consider the following questions.
- How will you manage walk-in patients?
- Do you have a system to make appointments?
- Where will patients wait?
Community Health and Wellness Needs
Start by focusing on your customers. The key to successful expansion is finding your pharmacy niche. Look for demographic-specific patients to serve through comprehensive care services. You can begin to identify opportunities by using any data in your pharmacy system, or by even asking patients.
Possible Partnership Opportunities in Your Community
Community partnerships can help to drive new patients to your pharmacy. You can also leverage community practitioners’ patient networks to grow your pharmacy business.
See it in Action: Comprehensive Diabetic Care Services
When your pharmacy implements a comprehensive care model, you will be able to thoroughly impact your patients’ health. Patients with diabetes, for example, may also need help controlling their cholesterol and blood pressure. It would also benefit a diabetic patient if you provide education on nutrient depletion and make recommendations for corrective measures. To illustrate, we’ve listed the comprehensive services that can be offered to a patient with diabetes below.
Diabetes Patient Care Track
- Screening & Assessments
- Continuous Glucose Monitoring
- Medication Therapy Management
- Compliance Packaging
- Diabetes Support Services
- Blood Pressure Monitoring
- Grocery Walk-Throughs
- Diabetic Shoe Fittings
Pharmacists, by nature, are problem solvers, and POCT allows for a more streamlined approach to resolving the health problems in our communities. If you are struggling to set up a plan, the PDS webinar on Strategic Planning along with the Patient Lifecycle Resources can help you get started.
Additional Resources to Streamline Your POCT Program
PDS offers access to various partners that can help you establish a POCT program.
Cerascreen® offers a wide variety of at-home, point-of-care test kits such as Cholesterol, Vitamin D, blood sugar, food allergies, and more. Take Cerascreen® tests at home or on-site, and the collected samples are shipped via pre-paid envelope to CLIA-certified partner labs. The test results are available online within 24-72 hours. In addition, these tests allow patients to take a proactive approach to their health by discussing test results and treatment options with their pharmacists.
Physicians 360 is a telemedicine and rapid testing company that strives to empower independent pharmacies with the tools needed to offer clinical services. In addition, this platform allows local independent pharmacies to level the playing field as more chain pharmacies begin to add in-house clinics.
Other resources available to help your pharmacy expand its POCT offerings include our Point-of-Care Testing Webinar.
Expanding your pharmacy’s Point-of-Care Testing does not have to be daunting. Planning out your POCT program with these considerations in mind will help you pinpoint your ideal patient population and which tests to offer. With the help of your PDS Business Coach, you can also use this information to begin developing an implementation strategy. It’s best to start with one or two programs and then expand. Then, as you and your staff get the mastery of new tests along with treatment recommendations, you can begin adding other tests to your list of POCT services.