How community pharmacies can thrive with testing and vaccinations - Primary Health

How community pharmacies can thrive with testing and vaccinations

  • February 27, 2023

  • Primary.Health Editorial Team

  • 3 minutes

With the shortage of primary care physicians, community pharmacies have an opportunity to claim a greater role in providing accessible and affordable testing and vaccination services.

In February, CVS made headlines by acquiring primary care provider (PCP) Oak Street Health. This follows similar transactions from last year when Walgreens bought a stake in VillageMD and Amazon Health Services purchased One Medical. These billion dollar investments point to large retail and online pharmacy chains integrating with primary care seeking to funnel patients into a broader care team under one umbrella. 

The competition for patients is only going to intensify. Community pharmacies can combat this trend in two ways. First, they can expand their own health services into more areas of point-of-care testing (POCT) and vaccinations historically done by primary care in order to offer more value to patients. Second, they can set up Collaborative Practice Agreements (CPAs) with PCPs to create win-win referral relationships to effectively manage patient volume and access.  

Community pharmacies can thrive with POCT and vaccinations

When someone is sick, they don’t want to wait days to see a PCP. They want to take a test and get a prescription on the same day so they can begin treatment immediately. With the shortage of PCPs in the U.S., community pharmacies have an opportunity to claim a greater role in providing accessible and affordable POCT and vaccination services. We’re all aware that about 90% of people in the U.S. live within five miles of a community pharmacy, and people visit those pharmacies 12 times more often than their own family doctors. Hundreds of millions of vaccines administered in pharmacies during the pandemic also showed us that consumers are comfortable receiving new healthcare services in pharmacies.

While the growth of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) waivers during the pandemic opened the door for many pharmacies to expand POCT services, many operational challenges still exist. It has to be done right. Here are key items to consider as you plan your POCT and vaccination strategy.

The long-term goal is scale

We believe succeeding with POCT is a long-term effort where the end goal is to be able to offer a large menu of POCT and vaccinations. An industry report from Deloitte predicts that POCT revenue will surpass vaccination revenue in community pharmacies. Scale is critical in order to become a meaningful revenue stream for your business, to enhance your role in the community, and to help establish CPAs. How fast you can achieve that scale can vary tremendously based on state regulations, staff resources, space limitations, etc. You can move at your own pace, but should be thinking about what you can do now to create the infrastructure to get there in the future. 

Automation is needed to scale

In order to scale, you need automation, and this is where technology is essential. Pharmacies are also dealing with a national shortage of pharmacists and technicians. For community pharmacies looking to grow POCT and vaccinations, you have to rely on technology to make multiple workflows (e.g. scheduling, medical history intake, diagnostic workflow, test resulting, etc.) efficient, consistent, and easy to learn for staff. Technology is absolutely critical to help ease the burden of introducing new processes to your team who is already under a lot of pressure.

Find the right technology partner for a community pharmacy

However far along you are today, we can help your pharmacy reach its goals at the right pace. Primary.Health developed our platform specifically for the community pharmacy looking to begin the transition from manual processes. Our technology and support offering is highly configurable, accommodates low-risk trials and is meant to be easy on your staff. Over 14 million tests and vaccinations have been administered through our platform, and we’d love to talk with you about how we can help.

To get the conversation started, please reach out to us here:

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