Indicating a possible end to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to vaccines from two manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna. Initial doses have already been given amid great hope and praise.
Frontline healthcare workers and residents and staff of nursing and long-term care facilities have been the first to receive the vaccine. It is expected to be available to the general public next spring. When this happens, health plans and pharmacies will need to be ready to address the hundreds of millions of people who will seek to be vaccinated. Here are a few recommendations that will help them ease the task.
Recommendations for pharmacies
Retail pharmacies are expected to become the most popular place for the public to receive the vaccine. Nearly 95% of the population lives within a few miles of a pharmacy, and many people already find their local pharmacy to be a convenient place to get flu shots. However, today’s pharmacies are already overloaded and understaffed—particularly during cold and flu season—so it will be crucial that they leverage technology to streamline the vaccine delivery process.
Tip #1: Create outbound communications
Given the speedy process with which the two vaccines were created, people have questions and concerns. Pharmacies would be wise to create an outbound communications campaign that helps the public understand vaccine availability, safety, side effects, drug interactions and more. By answering these questions proactively, the pharmacy can focus more on delivering the vaccine and less on fielding phone calls from concerned patients.
Tip #2: Schedule appointments in advance
With the right technology platform, pharmacies can allow patients to conveniently schedule appointments to receive their vaccine. By having people schedule in advance, the pharmacy will know how much stock they will need to have on hand and ensure appropriate staffing.
Tip #3: Automate second dose monitoring
Both of the currently approved vaccines require two doses, separated by 21 and 28 days. To efficiently manage appropriate dosing, the pharmacy will want to automatically monitor the timing and availability of the vaccine for those who are ready for their second dose.
Tip #4: Register and report automatically
The Department of Health and Human Services requires that pharmacists comply with recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including informing the patient’s primary-care provider and state or local vaccine registries. The pharmacy will want to work with a technology provider who can automate the process.
Tip #5: Assume a more prominent role in healthcare
The COVID-19 vaccine gives pharmacists an important new opportunity to continue ascending to a more prominent role in healthcare. Pharmacies offer patients a high level of trust and unparalleled access to care, and the pandemic won’t go away without the pharmacy. This could create lasting change for the industry and profession.
Recommendations for health plans
Health plans also play a prominent role in ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine gets into the arms of the general public. They, too, can expect to be inundated with questions, not only about the vaccine but also about claims and coverage. Here are a few recommendations for how health plans can address the issue.
Tip #1: Create member outreach campaigns
With member satisfaction being a top priority for health plans, they will want to create member outreach campaigns that address many of the questions their members might have. Health plans can create digital communications, mailers and other communications vehicles that address the safety and side effects of the vaccine. Questions will also arise around who can get the vaccine and where they should get it. The plan should also provide a resource for their members to go for more information. Here again, leveraging technology is the best way for health plans to communicate with their members, who want more information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Tip #2: Pharmacies can help with scheduling
Health plans can work with their local pharmacies, who have access to advanced technology that can enable them to schedule their members for vaccination. This new technology, called CareScheduler, allows the member to choose the clinic, provide their health history, identify health insurance information and more. The pharmacy will then have visibility into how many are coming in to ensure adequate stock and staff.
Tip #3: Alert members when their second dose is due
Health plans can use communications technologies to alert their members about when the second dose is due. Again, the plans can work with their local pharmacies, who have the tools to automate the process of monitoring second doses. The pharmacy can provide the technology needed to track the activity and reach out to the health plan member when the time is right.
EnlivenHealth™ provides the tools and technologies that assist pharmacies and health plans in the important endeavor of administrating the COVID-19 vaccine to the general public. For more information, contact us at 877-776-2832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.