August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and for the past three decades, the country has experienced the positive impacts of immunization on community health. According to the CDC, vaccines help prevent approximately 2.5 million deaths each year.
Community pharmacies have played and continue to play a crucial role in immunization efforts, in part due to their accessibility and unique connection to their communities. According to a 2016 systematic review of community pharmacies as adult vaccination sites, 280,000 pharmacists had been certified to deliver vaccinations in 2015. 86% of pharmacists in community pharmacy settings provide vaccinations, as shown in the APhA Annual Pharmacy-Based Influenza and Adult Immunization Survey. With 9 out of 10 Americans living within 5 miles of a local pharmacy, and with the vast majority of local pharmacies offering immunizations, it is no surprise that independent pharmacists have been a key to increasing vaccination rates across the country, and especially in under-vaccinated communities.
Just as independent pharmacies play a vital role in vaccinations, so too have vaccinations played a vital role in expanding revenue generation for independent pharmacies since the mid 1990s. According to an article in Drug Topics, “close to 100 million Americans get the flu shot each year, translating to $4 billion to $5 billion in revenue.” This doesn’t even include the other ways in which vaccines and vaccine marketing drive business, from new customers to cart expanders.
Immunization has strengthened the community pharmacy’s bottom line, and this decade, clinical services have come to join it. Offering direct patient care is the next big revenue stream for community pharmacies, and it shows in consumer preferences, pharmacy education, and state policies. Data from the Power 2021 US Pharmacy Study shows that “51% of individuals who use retail pharmacies indicated using primary care services in the past year––an increase from 48% in 2020 and 43% in 2019.” Urgent care usage has been increasing as an alternative to a traditional doctor’s visit or the ER, as seen in a 2018 report in Family Medicine Care, and the local pharmacy is set to be the more affordable alternative to urgent care.
This shift is evident in pharmacy education as well. Student pharmacists across the nation are now being trained in clinical services in addition to their regular curriculum, according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacies. Finally, state policies in the U.S. have been adapting to expand the pharmacist’s role in community health, from approving the administration of naloxone and birth control to the vaccinations that have we’ve discussed in this article. Expanding the pharmacist’s role in community health is not new– on the contrary, it has been a key feature of medical care for decades. Across the board, offering clinical services is evident not only as the next revenue driver for community pharmacies, but also a natural progression in their capabilities as healthcare providers.
If you are a community pharmacy interested in offering clinical services, myphysician360 is here to help. We partner with 1,000+ independent pharmacies and give them the tools to attract new patients and expand their role in patient care. From our online network of board-certified medical professionals to our rapid diagnostic test kits and telepharmacy software, you’ll have everything you need to engage in direct patient care– without the hefty start-up fees. Get started on improving patient outcomes and expanding your business today by clicking here.
Happy National Immunization Awareness Month! Thank you to our pharmacists everywhere for keeping all of us safe and healthy.
U.S. Pharmacist: https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/the-role-of-the-pharmacist-in-overcoming-vaccine-hesitancy
American Journal of Managed Care: https://www.ajmc.com/view/essential-role-community-pharmacies-expanding-access-vaccines
Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5215426/
Drug Topics: https://www.drugtopics.com/view/vaccination-programs-bring-pharmacy-profits
Why Offer Clinical Services?: https://physician360.co/why-offer-clinical-services/