With Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England planning already underway for the 2018-19 flu season, Community Pharmacies should already be thinking about their own seasonal vaccination campaigns. The sector achieved a significant milestone in 2017 with the delivery of more than 1 million vaccinations, surpassing the previous year’s figures which mean all indications point to a re-commissioning of this Advanced Service from pharmacy.
Although formal negotiations haven’t started, PSNC has confirmed it’s aware of some interim measures and the Pharmacy Minister has indicated a Community Pharmacy flu vaccination service will be re-commissioned in 2018/19.
To ensure the ongoing success of the national NHS flu vaccination programme ahead of the next flu season starting in September, pharmacies need to consider the following steps:
- Ordering Stock
Vaccination providers are being asked to place flu vaccine orders with more than one supplier. This will contribute to minimising the risk of local shortages caused by delivery delays or batch failures. It’s important to calculate accurate stock requirements to prevent over or under ordering. Intended outcomes include maximising the uptake of vaccinations by eligible patients – it’s anticipated that this cohort will once again include the over 65’s and those considered at risk.
- Using your Analyst PMR to identify eligible patients
By using Analyst PMR to its full potential, pharmacies can very easily gather patient information relevant to their flu campaign and put it to good use in a number of different ways. The data can help in calculating a more accurate estimate of the number of vaccines to be ordered and the Advanced Patient Search function is a really smart way to easily identify specific cohorts of patients using Analyst PMR. At Risk patients affected by long term conditions can be easily identified and then flagged for a free NHS flu vaccination as soon as the season starts.
Alternatively, pharmacies can filter demographic information about patients; over 65’s for example, who would also be eligible for the flu vaccination. Once a list of eligible patients has been identified, pharmacies can get ahead of the game by calling them in as soon as they’re ready to deliver the vaccination programme.
In addition, Analyst PMR helps system users by providing a number of patient reminder features; this enables pharmacies to use the Analyst SMS text messaging option to promote the pharmacy NHS flu vaccination service by sending eligible patients a reminder message as soon as the season starts. To use this it is, of course, important to keep all the patient information and contact details up to date.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that when eligible patients have been filtered on the basis of clinical condition and patient GP and the pharmacy team knows that a particular GP hates the fact that their pharmacy is offering free NHS flu vaccinations, the pharmacy team could choose to avoid calling in patients registered with that particular practice and keep the status quo of the professional relationship between pharmacy and surgery.
The Advanced Flu Module in the Analyst PMR solution allows pharmacy teams to capture and record the required patient data and clinical information when providing a flu vaccination. It is compulsory to notify the patients’ GP that a vaccination has been administered, so again it’s very simple within Analyst to print off a pre-formatted GP notification letter that is already populated with the necessary information.
In order to guarantee their PMR systems are being used to their full potential by Pharmacy clients, the Positive Solutions eLearning platform, provides additional staff training or even just a quick system refresher prior to the start of the flu season. Pharmacy Teams will benefit from direct online access to an extensive portfolio of quick reference Video Tutorials and Master Classes, all designed to support greater patient engagement, promotion of pharmacy services to achieve improved patient outcomes and increased pharmacy revenue.
- Promoting The Service
It’s fundamental that every community pharmacy intending to offer a flu vaccination service makes their local community aware of it ahead of time. The available options include posters, invitations to eligible patient cohorts, information leaflets attached to dispensed prescription bags, even printed messages on the bags themselves and SMS text messaging.
The Analyst PMR system allows pharmacies to get ahead of the game and get patients and families thinking about the flu jab in good time. Although the pharmacy NHS service is only available FREE of charge to over 65’s and those considered at risk, pharmacies are legally able to provide a paid-for flu vaccination to any person over the age of 18 years that doesn’t fall into a category eligible for the free vaccination on the NHS. However, convenience is paramount to every consumer and pharmacies shouldn’t miss the opportunity to promote their broader range of vaccination services in their promotional campaigns and materials. Please always remember that any marketing materials to promote services available free at the point of delivery in an NHS pharmacy must comply with the standard contractual Terms of Service.