Treating illnesses as they arise will always be important at your pharmacy. That’s never going to change. But as more pharmacists continue to expand their role as providers, you also need to consider preventive care at your retail pharmacy. What can you do to keep patients healthy? What strides can you take toward disease prevention? Maybe you haven’t considered this need. Or maybe you’ve been craving a way to address it but haven’t had the right resources. Either way, we’re here to give you the tools you need to be a champion of preventive care.

From adding new services to tapping into technology for patient data, here are four ways pharmacists can focus on preventive care.

1. Offer preventive health screenings and services

One of the biggest ways pharmacists can champion preventive care is by expanding their services. In “How to Improve Revenue at Your Independent Pharmacy,” Robin Page, RPh, discusses how adding preventive health screenings and vaccinations is a win-win for retail pharmacies and their patients. Page is the regional franchise director for Health Mart. She knows firsthand how adding these services helps not only your pharmacy’s bottom line but also disease prevention. You can offer things like:

  • Blood pressure tests. High blood pressure is a risk factor for serious health problems, including blood clots or stroke.
  • Cholesterol screenings. If untreated, high cholesterol can increase a patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Glucose testing. Blood sugar readings can help your patients prevent or delay the effects of diabetes.

Armed with the results of these tests, you and your patients will be more informed. You may refer patients to a different care setting, suggest a supplement, or give them other disease prevention resources, depending on their results. If you don’t already, you can also offer vaccinations for your patients, from influenza to shingles and beyond. Use signage and marketing materials to let patients know that you have vaccinations available, and remind those who may be at higher risk for common illnesses that you offer vaccinations when they come in to pick up other medication.

2. Rely on technology for patient data

Each patient is unique, so it makes sense that the measures they should take to stay healthy will vary. In “Overcoming Financial Challenges at Your Independent Pharmacy” Vickie Andros, PharmD, mentions how technology can personalize preventive care. Andros is the product manager for RelayHealth, and has seen firsthand how technology can help you identify at-risk patients. For example, your pharmacy management system should have each patient’s age, medication history, and other details. It should also signal to you when they’re at risk for different conditions. This way, when a customer comes in, your system generates a message. It reminds you to suggest specific screenings, vaccines, or products based on that patient’s information.

Maybe your patient is a smoker with a history of high blood pressure. Your system can alert you to talk to them about over-the-counter products to help them quit. Or you can recommend checking their blood pressure. If a patient is shown to be at risk for osteoporosis, you might suggest a calcium supplement. These little details help you deliver individualized care to your patients and are a major step toward disease prevention.

3. Focus on counseling and appointment-based care

While technology can help you see which patients need what, you still need to make those suggestions during one-on-one time. To get more time with your patients, use an appointment-based model. This includes scheduling appointments for patients to not only pick up their prescriptions but also speak with a pharmacist. You can counsel them on their medication and other health concerns during this time. As Nancy Gallo, RPh, discusses in “How Your Pharmacy Can Stay Ahead of a Changing Market,” this improves adherence. As the senior director of sales support, Gallo notes that better adherence not only helps your retail pharmacy’s revenue, but also your patient’s health in the long run.

Having dedicated time to talk with patients gives you a chance to address other health concerns they may have, which can help keep them healthy. Maybe they are having trouble quitting smoking or losing weight. Maybe they’re not sleeping well or are concerned about their diet. These are things a patient might not mention in passing. If you can set up an appointment with them, however, you can listen to their concerns and offer help. If possible, dedicate a separate space or private office for counseling patients. They may feel more comfortable opening up about their concerns in a private setting instead of at the pharmacy counter.

4. Rethink workflows and staffing

Offering preventive care is only possible if you have the bandwidth for that face time with patients in the first place. That’s why it’s important to think of how you currently use your staff. What are simple ways to free up more of their time for patient care? Steven Oh, RPh, tackles the question of time management in "Why Efficiency is Crucial to Your Independent Pharmacy’s Success.” Oh is the regional performance director for Health Mart Atlas. He suggests a few simple changes to free up more time for your staff:

  • Automate time-intensive tasks, like counting pills. Your pharmacists should be interacting with patients as much as possible. They don’t need to perform tasks that technology can handle.
  • Delegate other manual tasks to pharmacy technicians. Rely on the help of pharmacy techs to take time-intensive tasks off of pharmacists’ plates, too.
  • Standardize your processes. Reduce wasted time by having set, efficient processes in place for each workflow. When everyone is doing something a little differently, it can be hard to train new employees, and some people might spend more time on different tasks than others. Make sure everyone is on board with processes that are always done the same way.

The quality of care you provide as a pharmacist matters more than ever. Quality preventive care is a huge part of that. Make sure your retail pharmacy can dedicate enough time to it by streamlining processes, freeing up your staff, and using technology to take care of time-intensive tasks.

When pharmacists champion preventive care, patients have better health outcomes. Whether you’re giving vaccinations or performing health screenings for at-risk patients, these simple services become a value-add to each patient who walks through your door. And you can rely on technology and your pharmacy staff to help you make it all happen.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s vaccine product and program services for pharmacies

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to sharing innovative approaches and insights so our customers can get the most out of their business solutions and identify areas for operational improvement and revenue growth.

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