Pharmacies Take Steps to Protect Patients, Customers, and Staff

Pharmacies Take Steps to Protect Patients, Customers, and Staff

Pharmacies are a vital part of the healthcare system providing medicines, therapeutics, vaccines and critical healthcare series.  Their top priorities during this time-period is to ensure continuous operation while doing everything possible to help provide for the health and well-being of team members, patients and customers. 

How Pharmacies are Responding

Let’s take a closer look at how pharmacies are responding in to social distancing. 1 2

Government Regulations. Pharmacies are needing to respond in real-time to the one of their toughest challenges, navigating government regulations and guidance. For companies like Walgreens and CVS, who have national a presence, that means staying on top of Federal Government as well state, county, and even local (e.g. cities/towns) regulations and procedures.  Needless to say, they are doing a lot of problem-solving and working through various models of operation. It’s not a one-size fits all solution but rather a menu of options to address needs.

Virus Testing. Many pharmacies are collaborating with government and health officials at all levels to provide access to virus testing with drive-thru testing. The government-run testing is available to the general public and is administered at a dedicated space/location outside the pharmacies (e.g., parking lots). At the testing locations, pharmacists are responsible for the self-administration of tests like Abbott’s new ID NOW test that provides results in as little as 5-minutes.  For the health and safety of employees and customers, staff are provided protective equipment as directed by the CDC and patients being tested are not allowed to leave their vehicle.

Serving Patients and Customers.  While continuing to focus on the needs of customers and the communities being served, pharmacies/stores have

  • Adjusted their operating hours to allow for staff to do additional deep cleaning of stores, stocking of medicines and products.Pharmacies that are open 24-hours will continue drive-thru services.
  • Taken proactive action by having pharmacists reach out their senior and most vulnerable patients and customers to help ensure that their care and service is not compromised. For example, they are checking to see if patients have the necessary medications and product supplies.
  • Set special store hours that are dedicated for the senior community. These hours are available for caregivers and immediate family.
  • Extended discounts on products to assist with impacted incomes.
  • Stores/pharmacies have dramatically increased the frequency of daily cleaning procedures including cleaning high-traffic areas counter tops and point-of-sale terminals, with additional deep cleaning being conducted by a professional cleaning services.
  • Expanded the number of products that can be accessed through drive-thru including household essentials such as
  • Cleaning supplies and sanitizers
  • Cough/cold, pain/fever and immunity support
  • Select grocery items
  • Infant formula/adult nutrition
  • Medical supplies/first aid
  • Paper goods

Additional Safety at Checkout. Pharmacies are enacting safer and alternate ways for customers to conduct transactions at checkouts.  For example,

  • Customers may opt to purchase items with Apple Pay or with credits cards that offer contactless, “tap and pay” technology at the point-of-sale.
  • Customers can shop online and receive free-delivery on any purchase which will help patients avoid visiting their local pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.
  • Staff are cleaning our keypads frequently throughout the day.
  • Store and pharmacies are aggressively practicing social distancing by actions like placing decals and signage that begin 6 feet away from checkout and pharmacy counters and where customers should stand while waiting.They are also installing protective plastic shields at store checkouts which help reduce or eliminate virus exposure (per CDC recommendations).

Pharmacies/Stores Expanding Home Delivery and Curbside. National, regional, and independent pharmacies are expanding and for many even starting Curbside pickup and Home Delivery services as an important aid to help protect staff, patients, and customers with social distancing efforts.  These services are beginning to replace indoor counter pickup.

Most pharmacies follow a simple process that allow for the patient, family member, and/or caregiver to receive medications/orders curbside and for home delivery.  Pharmacies send notification via email, app or phone communication that prescription is ready for pickup. Upon arrival the person picking up simply alerts the pharmacy they have arrived at the designated pickup area and the prescription/order is brought to them. For the safety of both caregiver and employee, the driver and passengers remain in the vehicle with windows up and doors shut until the prescription delivery is complete. 

For home deliveries, delivery drivers leave all home delivery orders at the customer’s doorstep, eliminating close personal interaction. Customers will be contacted when deliveries arrive and are reminded to promptly refrigerate perishable food items upon delivery. As an added precaution, Curbside and Home Delivery customers no longer need to touch the mobile device screen to acknowledge their order was received.

Honeywell Solutions for Pharmacies

Honeywell’s lineup of barcode scanners help provides pharmacies the tools aid to help protect staff, patients, and customers, while allowing for increased productivity. Their ability to accurately read 1D and 2D barcodes the first time eliminates wasted seconds from every transaction, while minimizing unnecessary contact, and allowing for servicing of more customers. Honeywell’s barcode scanners are simple to integrate with existing IT infrastructure, shortening ramp up times and getting critical tech in place to meet today’s demand.

Handheld Scanners

  • Xenon Extreme Performance (XP)1952h-bf cordless, battery-free healthcare scanner with disinfectant-ready plastics to withstand effects of harsh cleaning agents while minimizing spread of infectious disease. You'll have the freedom of Bluetooth® wireless technology without the maintenance hassles or long recharge time associated with traditional batteries. Key takeaways include:
    • Disinfectant-ready housing and connectors are specifically designed to withstand frequent exposure to cleaning solutions recommended for the healthcare industry.
    • At least 450 scans without recharging.
    • Supercapacitors hold their charge for hours.
    • Capable of a full charge in under 60 seconds.
    • Superior 1D and 2D scanning performance, even on damaged and poor-quality barcodes, eliminates wasted seconds from any scan.
  • Xenon Extreme Performance (XP) 1952g-bf cordless, battery-free general purpose scanner. The scanner incorporates the latest in battery-free technology, offering the freedom of Bluetooth® low-energy wireless technology without the maintenance hassles or long recharge time associated with traditional batteries. Like all other Xenon scanners, the Xenon XP 1952g-bf scanner delivers aggressive barcode scanning performance – even on poor-quality or damaged barcodes.

    Hands-Free Scanners

  • Vuquest 3320g, mountable scanner for retailers where scanning is conducted by the customer. This can also be integrated into self-service kiosks. The compact area-imaging scanner offers aggressive scanning of all 1D, PDF and 2D barcodes in a lightweight, durable and portable form factor. The scanner’s sleek and elegant design also blends seamlessly in retail environments, providing superior-performance scanning of all printed barcodes, and digital barcodes on any smart device
  • Genesis 7580g hands-free presentation scanner ideal for a retail point of sale environment. This the first presentation area-imaging scanner engineered to decode all standard 1D, PDF and 2D barcodes. Its revolutionary imaging technology is housed in an elegant, yet durable design. Powered by Adaptus™ Imaging Technology 6.0, the 7580g scanner packs breakthrough performance into a versatile form factor.

How to Make Innovation Work with Your Budget

In recent days, organizations wishing to quickly add devices like mobile computers, scanners, and mobile printer solutions have inquired about financing to preserve cashflow.  Honeywell-as-a-Service is an offering that helps you navigate technology challenges. It provides you with an innovative approach to acquire software, hardware, and services and pay for them through a monthly payment with no upfront capital outlay.

Contact a Honeywell Solutions Expert today!  Call 1-800-934-3163.

Sources for the article included CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Kaiser Permanente, H E Butt Drug Stores, Publix PharmacyKroger Company

2 Considerations for Pharmacies during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Barry J. Ewell

Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Industrial Automation. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.