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How to Prepare Your Retail Pharmacy in the Event of a Pandemic

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Female pharmacist checks medications.

The role of the pharmacist is integral in our communities now more than ever with the new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) putting pressure on retail pharmacies. Not only are pharmacies the hub for developing information regarding the outbreak, but many are leaning on them as a source of comfort and reliability during this public health risk situation.

While pharmacists are advising not to stockpile prescription medications, unintended shortages can be expected. The main concern is the supply and demand relationship for common over-the-counter drugs and household supplies including everything from liquid hand soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, and antibacterial cleaning supplies, to toilet paper and face masks. The increased demand in some areas is affecting the availability of supplies, and as the concerns continue to grow, pharmacies must be prepared to offset depleting inventories to the best of their abilities.

Being one-hundred percent prepared for a pandemic situation is impossible, however there are tools available to alleviate the stress of running a retail pharmacy business during this time.

We have compiled a list of best practices to prepare your pharmacy during a pandemic to mitigate shortages and keep both patients and staff safe.

Develop Emergency Plans for Pharmacy Workflow

Preventing a pandemic is impossible, but proper planning can significantly reduce its impact. Developing a strategic plan and protocol for staff will be extraordinarily valuable during this time. Implement full staff training, ensure employees are cross-trained where applicable, and prepare for a sudden increase of patients and customers.

One of the main concerns when experiencing a pandemic is exposure. Protect personnel by doing routine health assessments of pharmacists, technicians, and cashiers. Consider reducing staff if possible, decreasing potential contact and contamination. Implementing automated management systems help make it possible to do more with less staff. Ensure everyone follows best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 with incresed hand washing, taking extra precautions to limit contact, and being diligent in properly cleaning and disinfecting POS equipment and commonly used spaces.

Implement Tools and Technology to Reduce Contact and Prevent Transmission

When dealing with the spread of COVID-19, the best arm of defense is to lessen exposure and reduce contact. This can be difficult for a pharmacy since they play a crucial role during a pandemic. Pharmacies are viewed as being at the forefront of information related to public health and the latest developing news during a potential health risk.

As an essential location for patient care and supplies, integrating technology to automate ordering and taking steps to incorporate tools such as self-service kiosks and self-checkout lessens the need for direct contact between pharmacists and customers—reducing potential transmission.

Utilize your point of sale technology to automate emailed statements, so that staff can be out of the store in the event of a quarantine or need for limited contact. Offer the option of emailed receipts and mobile POS with electronic signature capture to reduce exposure and contact.

Provide Continued Service and Supplies Needed to Lessen Stress

The proper planning and tools will allow your pharmacy to provide the same level of service and care during a health crisis—alleviating the stress that can be caused by reduced staffing during a time when your products and services are in high demand. Automated back office software allows you to maintain bookkeeping remotely in the event of a quarantine. Remote software with required two factor authorization ensures you remain PCI and HIPAA compliant off-site.

The use of intelligent purchasing and receiving  allows your pharmacy to view inventory levels in real-time and boost inventory ordering in times of need, preventing potential shortages of over-the-counter medication, prescription drugs, and supplies. Incorporate delivery so that you can still provide service to those who are in isolation.

The need for pharmacies and community is growing as we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19. For more pharmacy preparedness tips or for help preparing your pharmacy with automation technology during the pandemic, contact Auto-Star or visit our COVID-19 update page for more information.

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