Since the start of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, pharmacies across the US have had to adopt and implement online schedule and consent forms to streamline these patient services. On behalf of the GRX Marketing team, kudos to you and your pharmacy staff for stepping up and doing what was needed to keep your community safe and healthy during this pandemic.
Whether you are a novice or have become a pro at online forms and scheduling, we wanted to offer some suggestions on ways to utilize your online scheduling and consent forms for additional pharmacy services outside of COVID-19 vaccinations and/or testing.
There are numerous benefits to utilizing online scheduling for pharmacy services. First and foremost, it significantly reduces the amount of time your team will spend on the phone. We have heard from so many pharmacies that the current staffing shortage has left their team scrambling to get all their work done. Imagine how much time could be saved if every patient who called to schedule an appointment was instead able to do it themselves online. While there may be some patients who still prefer to call, most would prefer the simplicity of doing it themselves quickly and easily, online.
Additionally, patients have come to expect online options – from everywhere. By utilizing an online scheduler, you give your patients the option to book their appointment 24/7 – giving the perception that your pharmacy is always available to them. It is important to remember that some of your patients work full-time during the day when your pharmacy is open, and they might not have time to pick up the phone and call to schedule an appointment. This is especially true if it isn’t considered an essential visit.
Finally, by utilizing online scheduling you are utilizing yet another avenue that the chain pharmacies present as unique to them. Patient loyalty is at an all-time low thanks to the issues that the pandemic has brought to light. According to GetApp, 94% of customers surveyed said they’d be more likely to choose a provider that uses online booking over one who doesn’t.1 It has become more crucial than ever to take a moment and remove all potential obstacles that prevent new patients from utilizing your pharmacy. Make the most of what is being given and ensure your pharmacy offers the same conveniences as the chains, with better service.
You and your team can save an average of 21 minutes PER PATIENT when you switch to online forms.
1.Immunizations & Clinics
Any and all immunization consent forms should be available to patients to fill out digitally. It saves your team time, it saves your patients time, and is a simple and effective way to streamline operations. Creating an online scheduler and consent form for other immunizations should be a breeze. You can even use a single scheduler and consent form for all vaccine types and simply customize the questions depending on what vaccine the patient needs.
If you offered COVID-19 vaccination clinics this year, you should make a note to reach out to those businesses and set up flu clinics as well. Start your outreach in June or July to ensure you give them time to plan ahead. Since you already have a relationship, and a process in place to easily schedule and collect necessary information, keeping that line of communication open between now and then with updates and ways the pharmacy can help keep their business up and running – will be crucial to securing a clinic down the road.
Simplify and speed up the medication review process by having the patient fill out the things you would like to review, online, prior to their appointment. They can answer questions about their health, medications, recent doctor visits, concerns they have all ahead of time, medication side effects, etc.
Make Open Enrollment time easier by having patients schedule their appointment in advance. Ask some basic questions about their current insurance, health status, and medications, and you will be able to prepare for their appointment ahead of time. Additionally, you will be able to prepare recommendations for other pharmacy services that might benefit them.
Health & Wellness
If your pharmacy offers any sort of health/wellness program using online forms and scheduling to enroll and monitor patients will help keep them on track. Including items such as a symptoms checklist, medication review for possible nutrient depletion, food/calorie consumption, exercise habits and blood pressure logs, can be submitted to the pharmacy every week for review.
If you aren’t offering online surveys for your pharmacy, you are missing out on an opportunity to learn about the needs of your patients, local prescribers, and even your staff. Utilizing online forms for survey purposes will help showcase where your community needs help or where your pharmacy needs improvement.
Patient surveys are a great, simple, and effective way to gain feedback on your pharmacy. You can make them anonymous to encourage honest answers and ensure that your patients are getting the best possible experience. Additionally, you can get some insight as to what products or services they may want/need that your pharmacy doesn’t offer.
One way to keep your team involved is to also create employee surveys. What are they passionate about, what services do they want the pharmacy to offer, how do they feel about their job, co-workers, managers, etc. Give them a platform to speak their mind without fear of rejection or reprisal.
Similar to patients, it is a good idea to offer prescribers a way to submit feedback, or request information, on products or services the pharmacy offers. Get their thoughts on what your community needs from a healthcare standpoint and see what you can do to help make their lives easier.
When it comes to online forms, most clients create one or more of the following to help improve front-end sales and streamline orders.
Whether for rental or purchase, having an online order form for medical equipment will save your team time gathering information. Collect customer information, include a rental rate fee schedule, have them sign waivers and agreements. You can even integrate payment processors to collect fees.
Not all pharmacies have an online store for front end products, but at the very least, you could have an online order form! Let your community place orders for your most popular front-end needs and allow them to schedule a pick-up day/time that works for them.
Unfortunately, these online refills and transfers can’t go directly into your pharmacy dispensing system queue, but many pharmacies use these forms as an opportunity to contact new patients directly to establish a connection early.
Consent form tips and tricks
When creating consent forms, there are a few things you should always do to ensure you are putting your best foot forward.
Always include headers and sub-headers explaining what you want the person to do
Test the form before publishing to ensure everything looks good, the conditions you have set work properly, the email notifications you have go through, and generally find all flaws
Keep the form as simple as possible to reduce confusion and frustration
Include page breaks and dividers for longer forms to prevent patients from being visually overwhelmed
Group like questions to make the logic process smoother for the patient
Always include a Thank you – whether that is a page or email follow up
Use the proper form fields whenever possible (use the phone field for phone numbers and the email field for email addresses)
Utilize conditional logic to remove unnecessary questions to reduce the time it takes for patients to complete their form thus making it less likely they will abandon the task
Over the past two years we have helped over 100 pharmacies develop and implement online scheduling and consent forms. We have been fortunate enough to work with the independent community industry for over 10 years now and we see the struggles you face, every day. In an effort to become a trusted resource for community pharmacies, we offer this free PDF download highlighting the additional uses of consent forms for you to utilize and implement within your pharmacy. If you have questions or need assistance setting these up for your pharmacy, we invite you to contact us via our website contact form, or call (515) 280-2914.