Health and lifestyle complications associated with COVID-19 are quickly becoming the reality for many communities, yet the frontline response led by pharmacists across the nation has been incredible. As the most accessible care providers in America, here are methods community pharmacists can follow to ensure patients continue to remain engaged, informed, and safe.
Meet Your Patients Where They Are
Many members of your community may be practicing social distancing or have even initiated quarantine. Rather than walking into your pharmacy, be sure to make them aware of opportunities to use your home delivery service, curbside pick-up, or your drive-thru.
Additionally, basic household supplies such as soap, hand sanitizer, and paper goods have become scarce. If your pharmacy is still stocking in-demand items, let your patients know they can get them from you. If patients are unsure if you’ll have supplies in stock, let them know they can text you before they visit. With the PrescribeWellness patient communications tool, available through CompleteCare, you can quickly let your patient know what supplies are in stock.
Capitalize on Convenience
Now is the time to capitalize on the convenience and care that community pharmacies offer. When talking to patients, emphasize preventive and proactive steps to promote convenience instead of creating panic. Encourage your patients to remain adherent to their maintenance medications, and be sure to discuss refill options with them. Keep the following in mind:
- Refill sooner: some pharmacy benefit managers have relaxed refill-too-soon restrictions during this time
- Convert to 90 days’ supply: as more patients are staying home, this is the perfect opportunity to convert medications from 30 days’ supply to 90 days’ supply
- Emergency furnishing: let your patients know of any opportunities to furnish medications without a prescription
Prevention through Education
Think simple, and educate your patients! By eliminating confusion and disinformation, community pharmacists can play an active role in keeping patients healthy and reducing fear within the community.
Here are three important facts your patients need to know about COVID-19.
#1 What is COVID-19?
Per the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus and manifests as a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. First identified while investigating an outbreak in Wuhan, China, the virus spreads very easily and very quickly via respiratory droplets (i.e. a cough or a sneeze) in close contact with people – distances of 6 feet or less. Therefore, the best way to sneeze is into a tissue that is then properly disposed of in a waste bin. Another way to cough or sneeze is into the upper sleeve/elbow of your arm.
#2 How to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Wash your hands often, and longer! At least 20 seconds is the recommended amount of time. An easy way to be sure you’re washing long enough? Just sing the “Happy Birthday” song – twice. When you’re done singing, you’re done washing.
Next? It’s time to sanitize – at least 60% alcohol content to kill any bacteria! But remember, using hand sanitizer alone is not an effective germ killing strategy. Rather, hand sanitizer should be used in conjunction with a steady regimen of hand washing. Also, make sure your patients do not touch their face – especially the eyes, nose, and mouth – as these are prime ports of entry for SARS-Cov-2!It may seem obvious, but many patients touch their face habitually, and without even realizing they are doing it. Lastly, the virus loves to live on surface areas for hours so make sure your patients clean and disinfect all surfaces using soap and water and then using disinfectant, preferably a diluted bleach cleaning solution (five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water).
#3 COVID-19 Resources
Establishing yourself as a resource for information in the community is an excellent way to keep your patients informed while also establishing connection to your pharmacy. Many patients will have questions surrounding the availability, and cost, of SARS-C0V-2 testing. Some insurance companies have already begun taking steps to help where they can, but the responses vary depending on the provider, so here are the key highlights:
- Anthem will cover the cost of coronavirus testing
- Blue Cross Blue Shield will wave prior authorization for diagnostics test, waive prescription refill limits in maintenance medication, and expand access to telehealth in their 36 independent and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies
- Aetna is offering zero copay on telemedicine visits through June 4th 2020 and a 90-day medicine maintenance to insured and medicaid members
- Medicare Part B will cover the coronavirus test when doctors or health professionals order it
Helping your patients navigate the complex health system will support improved patient outcomes and promote loyalty throughout your community.
Don’t have the PrescribeWellness patient communications tool? Interested in learning how you can become more involved in ensuring a healthy community? Please reach out to us today – we are standing by and happy to discuss how PrescribeWellness can help you engage your patients during this critical time.