5 Things To Plan Now To Maximize Pharmacy Growth This Flu Season

August 30, 2022

At MedEssist, our focus is serving independent pharmacies. That means we are always building features and support systems to help you plan and manage your business growth, as well as help you run your day to day.

Flu season is undeniably one of the greatest opportunities to connect with new members of your community and as a result, expand your patient-base. That being said, it’s also the busiest time of the year for many pharmacies. With some planning ahead, you’ll be able to not just survive flu season, but take full advantage of the opportunity in a stress-free way.

Here are 5 things to plan this flu season:

1. The goal of flu season is NOT to administer flu shots. What is it for you?

Ask yourself this: what action do you want to encourage patients to take at your store? What defines pharmacy growth for you this flu season?

Here’s our suggestion: For patients coming to you for the first time, the goal should be to provide every opportunity for that patient to transfer their profile to your pharmacy, and to pick-up their next refill from you

There are two crucial factors to accomplishing this. First, the patient must have a fantastic, seamless experience registering and receiving their flu vaccine, and second, the process of transferring should be just as easy as well. You’d be surprised how many patients are willing to transfer if all it takes is a single click, or if you just ask them in a nice way! 

If you aren’t planning out a seamless way for this to occur, then you’re leaving it to chance that patients will change their pre-existing habits and routine for you. Don’t do this. Plan a simple, yet non-intrusive way to gauge a patient’s interest and process those transfers this flu season.

An action plan for flu shots conducted on returning patients is also necessary. Giving the vaccine is the bare minimum, but are you assessing the patient's need for other immunizations? Or educating them on an important health issue while you still have their attention? Are you raising awareness on other services you offer at your pharmacy? Perhaps you’d like patients to give your pharmacy a Google review, or to sign up for your newsletter so you can stay in touch with them. Every interaction at the pharmacy, whether it's a medication refill, vaccine, or other service, is an opportunity to assess, educate, or ensure the patient knows when and how to access your pharmacy in the future.

2. When should you start your flu shot campaign?

Many large chain pharmacies start advertising and promoting flu season in mid-August, well before flu vaccines arrive. Let’s review why they start so early, and why you should do the same. 

Firstly, early waitlist registrations ensure patients come back to you. Getting a flu shot may not be very high up on everyone’s priority list. The convenience of a quick registration ensuring that patients are notified as soon as a dose available for them is very enticing. Once patients are signed up with you, they are less likely to sign up elsewhere.

Secondly, it allows pharmacies to begin promoting additional pharmacy services through email newsletters. This can include raising awareness about how their pharmacies can treat various minor ailments, or encouraging patients to refill their prescriptions online. Luckily, with MedEssist’s newsletter feature or other available newsletter services, there’s no reason why you can’t start your own e-newsletter as well ;).

Finally,  an early start to your flu vaccine waitlist lets you prepare for the season properly. You can determine the number of patients you want to see each day, decide whether to run clinics or need extra staff, see which patients require non-standard doses, and so much more. You can also plan ahead of time which patients will receive another vaccine at the same time. Patients must wait 15 minutes at your pharmacy after a flu shot. Make sure you are not giving the impression that you’re too busy or stressed to accept new patients during that time by planning out your schedule.

3. Promoting your flu vaccine campaign

Here’s a checklist with some tips to help keep you on track: 

  • Website: Ensure that your website is up to date, as an out-of-date website is a deterrent for new patients from walking through your door. Consumers google everything these days.  Many people strongly prefer the convenience of registering themselves online rather than having to make a phone call, so make sure you have a secure online registration method set up.
  • Social Media: Facebook tends to have an older demographic, while Instagram leans younger. Encourage patients to like or follow you to build a community. 
  • Posters and Handouts:  Ideally, posters should have a QR code or easy web URL that directs patients to online registrations. Posters not only capture foot traffic, but also reduce your staff workload by allowing staff to direct patients to it. Build relationships with other local businesses to have your posters up around the community. 
  • Email Newsletters: Remind patients to return to you for their annual flu shot by sending out a “Back To School” Newsletter.
4. Execute your flu vaccine campaign

Here are the key areas you need to tackle when running your flu campaign: 

  • An Optimized Schedule: Having a longer interval between shots can be beneficial if your team is committed to providing an exceptional experience in order to reach your planned growth goals. 
  • Streamlined Documentation:  This will allow staff to spend time building and reinforcing the patient experience, instead of admin work.  
  • Communication: Train your staff on 1 or 2 post vaccination take home messages. Example: “We’d love to see you again. You can actually send a photo of your next prescription to us online through our website, and we’ll have it ready when you come in.”
  • Vaccination Receipts: Digital receipts are often ideal,  as they save paper and are easily accessible. They can even include links or your website so patients can refill their next prescription easily.
5. Use MedEssist (if you aren’t already)

You’re busy. We know. And that’s why we’re here.

 We’ve built everything discussed in this blog into our platform. Last flu season, our pharmacies averaged over 150 patient transfers through our system. More importantly, once transferred, those patients can use MedEssist to order refill after refill.  MedEssist is here to support your team whether it comes to marketing, your web presence, and any clinical or billing help you may need. 

Got any questions? Don’t hesitate to message us in the chat, located at the bottom right of your screen.

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