Pharmacist Speaker series, Part 1
Potential topics for a pharmacist speaker series include vaccination marketing tactics (including language used to educate patients), vaccine cost and perception barriers, vaccine delivery as a revenue stream and to fill the primary care gap, and millennial reluctance to get flu vaccinations.
To identify some current topics of concern for pharmacists, I searched for polls or surveys conducted among pharmacists, as well as consulting top pharmacy information sources, such as Pharmacy Times, US Pharmacist, American Pharmacists Association, and Pharmacy Today. I also checked the topics offered at several pharmacy conferences. I specifically searched for the suggested topics, but I did not find a lot regarding diabetes patients and immunizations. There were quite a few references to pharmacies offering diabetes training or education classes, and these articles sometimes referenced the importance of understanding a patient's immunization history, but they did not particularly focus on why these patients are more in need of vaccinations than other patients. Ultimately, I chose the topics that I encountered most often in the sources outlined above.
MARKETING TACTICS FOR PROMOTING VACCINATIONS
Marketing of vaccinations, especially the flu shot, is clearly an area of concern for independent or community pharmacists. Numerous articles in pharmacy sources focus on helping these pharmacists promote vaccines or immunizations, suggesting a variety of marketing tactics, such as gift cards for flu shots, on-site workplace clinics, educational videos, signage and printed materials, and more. Patient education was a common challenge cited by pharmacists in a recent survey. The language used by pharmacists can promote vaccinations.
BATTLING COST BARRIERS
Vaccinations can be cost-prohibitive to many patients, making them reluctant to indulge in this potentially life-saving preventative measure. Changing the perceptions around vaccinations and helping patients see the benefits, despite costs, is a consistent challenge for pharmacists. On the pharmacy side, issues related to vaccination reimbursement and insurance coverage were cited as a top concern among surveyed pharmacists.
BATTLING PERCEPTION BARRIERS
The anti-vaccination movement and perceptions around the effectiveness of vaccinations are an ever-present obstacle for pharmacies delivering vaccines. Pharmacists are in need of tools to combat the misperceptions related to vaccine safety and effectiveness that have been driven by media attention. The reintroduction of diseases such as measles is driving the push to combat the anti-vaccination movement among pharmacists and doctors.
VACCINE DELIVERY AS REVENUE STREAM and FILLING THE PRIMARY CARE GAP
Independent pharmacies are becoming more important in filling the primary care gap in the US. Providing access to medication information, vaccinations, and health insurance guidance can be ways pharmacies can reach patients without easy access to healthcare. In addition, offering vaccines at pharmacies can be a significant revenue driver for pharmacies, with nearly three-quarters of community pharmacies offering vaccines now. Pharmacies can set themselves up as a wellness destination, making them an indispensable part of the healthcare value chain. So, this topic can really be considered two topics, as it relates to pharmacies improving their revenue stream and repositioning themselves as a primary source of healthcare support.
MILLENNIAL RELUCTANCE TO GET A FLU SHOT
Millennials are a particularly reluctant group when it comes to vaccinations. About 25% of millennials avoid getting a flu shot because they find it cost prohibitive. Others cite their strong immune systems or lack of confidence in the value of getting the shot. As millennials are set to become the largest demographic in the US, overtaking baby boomers by 2019, they are a sought-after market for vaccinations.
To wrap up, vaccination-related topics that are currently relevant for independent pharmacists include marketing tactics, battling cost and perception barriers, filling in the primary care gap and driving revenue through vaccinations, and addressing millennial reluctance around flu shots.