Many pharmacies are experiencing a surge in business at the moment due to COVID-19. Last month, clients on our pharmacy platform saw record-breaking numbers of prescription refills, calls, and mobile downloads.
Handling an increase in business during social distancing and shelter-in-place orders can be stressful and complicated. How do you balance patient and customer influx with coronavirus prevention and staff safety?
Here are four tips for managing the surge while staying safe.
1. Protect Your Staff
The health and safety of your staff should be top priority. They are the reason your pharmacy stays open, the reason you are able to care for patients, and they can help you effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Make sure to keep a supply of medical-grade protective masks and gloves on hand for them as they care for patients throughout the day. Have hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and tissues available in staff areas at all times.
Look at their work schedules and build in regular breaks so they can eat, relax, and destress between shifts. And above all, support their mental health at work and encourage them to look after themselves at home.
2. Maintain Pharmacy Hygiene
Many businesses, including pharmacies, are coming up with creative ways to protect the public while keeping their doors open.
Some Kroger stores have installed plexiglass “sneeze” barriers while Target locations are deep cleaning checkout lanes after every transaction and have stopped handling customer’s reusable bags.
Some ways you can maintain pharmacy hygiene include:
- Creating a daily cleaning and disinfecting schedule for your staff
- Changing your open hours to allow time for daily cleaning routines
- Making floor signage such as tape or decals designating a distance of 6ft apart to encourage appropriate distancing between patients
- Setting special shopping hours for elderly and at-risk customers
- Keeping tissues, hand sanitizer, and wipes available at strategic points around the store
Dedicate some staff time to cleaning duties after-hours and have several employees on hand to ensure that public areas are disinfected and patients maintain social distancing throughout the day.
3. Offer Alternative Pickup and Delivery Options
Whether you plan to stay open to foot traffic or have decided to close the public-facing part of your store completely, it’s a good idea to have alternatives for patients and extra customers.
Consider offering curbside pickup so patients can safely stay in their cars or allowing customers to buy non-prescription items through your drive-thru. Ask customers to order by phone and make use of your online refill prescription platform.
For sick, elderly, immunocompromised patients, or those who prefer to stay home, you can easily accommodate them by offering discounted or free delivery.
Encouraging delivery as an option will also help mitigate in-store and curbside delivery traffic. You may want to delegate separate staff members to manage delivery, pickup, and in-store patient workflow to ensure that each available channel runs smoothly.
4. Stock Up on Essentials
Now that shelter-in-place is the norm in most states and the CDC is recommending that all people wear face masks or coverings in public, patients will turn to your pharmacy for essentials. Prioritize stocking these products in your pharmacy:
- Pain relievers
- Fever reducers
- Cough syrup and suppressants
- Sore throat remedies such as lozenges
- Fluids and rehydrating products
- Hand sanitizer
- Non-medical-grade cloth masks, bandanas, and face coverings
- Household cleaners
- Non-perishable and canned food items
Keeping flu and cold medicines in stock help regulate the traffic flow by allowing patients who are not there for prescriptions or screening to easily grab what they need. Make sure your recommended supplies and medications are clearly marked.
This is a stressful time for many people and businesses and pharmacies are at the top of the list. We appreciate the extraordinary efforts of all of our independent pharmacy clients. Thank you for all your hard work!
For more information on COVID-19, please download our guide for independent pharmacies.