Managing Vaccines and COVID-19 Testing With Paperless Technology

April 9, 2021
Michael Morgan

,
Emlah Tubuo, PharmD

COVID-19 has increased the demand for new, safer curbside conveniences and the health care industry—including the pharmacy—has transformed rapidly to meet patient needs and prioritize safety as a result of the pandemic.

We’re all familiar with the convenience of curbside service—from grabbing a coffee to picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. COVID-19 has increased the demand for new, safer curbside conveniences and the health care industry—including the pharmacy—has transformed rapidly to meet patient needs and prioritize safety as a result of the pandemic.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released special guidance for pharmacies during COVID-19, including revised procedures on how to:

  • Fill prescriptions
  • Minimize close contact
  • Conduct COVID-19 testing and other close-contact services
  • Provide vaccinations based on local conditions

Pharmacists stepped up to the challenge last year to offer curbside vaccines during flu season to protect their communities. In an effort to reduce physical touchpoints, many pharmacies began adopting paperless solutions to organize documents and increase workflow efficiencies, streamline patient intake, and enhance the overall patient experience. Now with the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19, pharmacies are again ramping up to accommodate the influx of shots in arms safely and conveniently.

Expediting the Vaccine Process with Electronic Fax and Digital Forms: Lessons Learned from Flu Season

Powell Pharmacy in Powell, Ohio, has traditionally administered vaccines in-person at the pharmacy. But like many other facets of patient care, COVID-19 drastically changed that. In order to maintain social distancing, limit physical touch points, and still provide patient care, last year the pharmacy ditched the traditional clipboard, pen and paper to begin leveraging paperless technology to administer flu shots.

Prior to using these tools, each vaccine took approximately 10-15 minutes from start to finish. Now it’s just mere minutes to administer the shot. Relying on new innovative solutions, such as secure text and electronic forms, allowed the pharmacy to administer 3 times as many vaccines compared to the year prior.

In addition to the efficiency aspect, adopting this technology and creating a curbside system enabled the pharmacy to not only provide a safe and convenient experience for patients, but also streamlined their ability to test for COVID-19 antibodies. Using lessons learned and best practices from flu season, the pharmacy is also now well prepared to seamlessly administer the COVID-19 vaccine when their supply is received later this Spring. In an environment in which many COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling and communications systems have patients frustrated, having a workflow in place ahead of time that can be easily rolled out is important to patient engagement and the success of the pharmacy.

Ditching the Clipboard and Creating a Completely Paperless Practice

Pharmacies have always been an essential part of a patient's care plan, but in today’s new age of healthcare consumerism, it’s crucial that pharmacy technology mirrors the efficiency of that in a traditional doctor’s office. Pharmacies can easily implement a full virtual care strategy that is not only cost-effective and resource-efficient, but that also improves the patient experience via no-touch patient management, ongoing patient communications and secure communications solutions.

Research has shown that 69% of Americans visit their pharmacy at least every month. Considering the new expectations of the pharmacist as a result of COVID-19, pharmacies must commit to ditching the clipboard and implementing paperless technology in order to be more efficient. In doing so, pharmacists can:

  • Eliminate the risk of human error from manual entry.
  • Increase patient satisfaction and safety with a complete touchless solution.
  • Reduce costs and paper use.
  • Increase document availability to anyone in the practice, including remote locations.
  • Gain access to mobile-friendly, responsive web platforms for easy viewing on the go.
  • Accommodate a linguistically diverse patient population via multi-language forms.

As the industry continues to streamline and eliminate outdated processes, such as manual fax and long waiting lines, patient expectations will continue to transform. In order to ensure a smooth transition into this new era of patient care, pharmacies should consider implementing a full virtual care strategy that prioritizes the use of technology, enhancing the patient experience and increasing productivity— ultimately simplifying the business of health care.

About the Authors

Michael Morgan, President of Updox
With a successful track record in helping organizations use technology to transform the way health care is delivered, Mike has more than 25 years of health care leadership within software, behavioral health, and HIT organizations. Updox was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America for the past 6 consecutive years.

Emlah Tubuo, PharmD, Owner of Powell Pharmacy

A passionate pharmacist, Dr. Tubuo offers education, support and guidance, with a focus on functional medicine, nutraceuticals, preventive medicine and chronic disease management. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy from The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, Master of Science degree from Chicago State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Buea Cameroon.