In early March, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised older adults and anyone with a serious underlying medical condition to stock up on supplies, including prescribed and over-the-counter medications. While this guidance was an essential step to prepare the public for sheltering in place, it sparked a panic buying spree at local supermarkets and quickly overwhelmed retail pharmacies with double or triple the volume of prescriptions to fill.
For most people this meant waiting in long, crowded lines where the experience was nothing short of frustrating. In addition, social distancing was difficult to maintain and protective safety measures for workers and customers had yet to be widely adopted, further increasing risk of exposure.
Already familiar with the challenges facing the retail pharmacy settings, Premise Health pharmacists and pharmacy managers at over 60 employer locations sprang to action in real-time so members across the country would be prepared for the unforeseeable future.
Here’s what Premise Health did – and continues to do – to provide everyday convenience and personalized care for our members throughout the pandemic.
Helping Prepare for the Unknown
Above all else, safety is our top priority. New protocols were immediately put in place at all onsite and nearsite pharmacy locations, including:
- In-person symptom screenings
- Physical distancing measures such as counter barriers and floor-markers
- Medication mail order and curbside pick-up capabilities
- Additional cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, plants and equipment
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves for staff
Next, pharmacists made sure members with underlying health conditions or those at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 received a phone call to ensure they were aware of CDC guidance and had early or extended access to their prescribed medications. With 50% of Americans struggling with at least one chronic condition, members with health concerns need help staying adherent to their medications in a time of disrupted routines. Using our integrated electronic medical record (EMR), and nationwide collaboration, our pharmacists:
- Immediately pulled medical records of all Premise Health members managing chronic conditions
- Proactively filled 30-day supplies of prescriptions and related testing equipment within 24-hours
- Notified members of prescription pick-up availability prior to mandatory shelter-in-place
- Shipped supplies to members that were already sheltering in place
To do this we leveraged our innovative analytics program, Care Connect, that identifies members who need additional support and follow-up care. Pandemic or no, Premise pharmacists proactively reach out to members to make sure they can afford their medications, know how to take them and are able to address any questions, concerns or unwanted side effects. Our member-centric approach goes beyond the pill to foster relationships that support the whole person.
Continued Access to Medications and Pharmacists
After safety protocols were put in place and emergent needs were met, pharmacists shifted to a virtual-first environment to offer ongoing support and continued access to medications for the broader member population. This involves an organized strategy to meet workers where they are – literally. With our unique model of pharmacy and use of industry reporting, Premise pharmacists can see when a member is running low on their medication, reach out to them, and let them know they’re due for a refill. Additionally, we’ve have made it possible for members to pick-up their medications curbside or have them delivered via mail order free of charge. Members even have the option to add over-the-counter medications for allergies, pain, or cold and flu to their order. Implementing convenient solutions that reduce face-to-face interactions give members one less thing to worry about during stressful times.
We care about members being able to access their medications and remove financial barriers to make this a possibility. At Premise, over-the-counter and prescription medication savings are passed on to our clients and members. During times of financial uncertainty when furloughs, layoffs and wage reductions are mounting by the day, being able to obtain medication is something that shouldn’t have to be sacrificed.
Staying Connected from a Distance
It’s easy to feel alone when social distancing. Some may even feel forgotten. Throughout COVID-19, Premise pharmacists have made a concentrated effort to stay connected either by calling to ask how members are doing or sending handwritten postcards by snail mail. By keeping lines of communication open, pharmacists have been able to alleviate member concerns and provide essential care while reducing the burden on community resources.
Readjusting to the Day-to-Day
When stay-at-home mandates have been lifted, people are going to need help getting back to a normal healthcare routine. This may mean re-synchronizing medications to avoid an ongoing surplus, running new lab tests to confirm everything is in balance, or enrolling in a chronic condition management program to provide accountability and care support. At Premise, we believe this process will begin in June and July as people go back to the workplace and businesses begin to operate as normal.
Onsite and nearsite pharmacists can play a leading role in preserving the health and wellbeing of members across the country through proactive outreach, continued condition management, and convenient access to essential medications. At Premise, we prioritize member experiences and lowering costs while redefining the meaning of quality care – especially during times of crisis.
Premise Health is committed to protecting and promoting the health and safety of team members, members, and their families. As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, our teams can play a critical role in reinforcing the country’s healthcare infrastructure. By delivering care at our health centers and pharmacies, we can alleviate the burden on community resources and provide continued access to high-quality healthcare.
From pandemic preparation and screening to response and return to work, we can help your organization strategically navigate this unprecedented and challenging time.
- If you are a Premise Health member with questions, call your health center.
- If you are a Premise Health client with questions, please contact your director of client operations.
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Premise Health is the leading direct healthcare provider offering onsite wellness centers, as well as nearsite and virtual access points. For the latest COVID-19 information from Premise Health, click here.