While the pharmacy drive-thru was invented by Calvin Michael Burton in 1951, the trend wasn’t popularized until 1991, when drug chain Walgreens opened its first drive-thru location. Originally meant to speed up prescription dispensing, drive-thrus became a boon to pharmacies nationwide at the height of COVID-19 last spring.
Drive-Thru Advantages During COVID-19 And Beyond
In the past year, many healthcare facilities have been faced with the challenge of providing personalized, high-touch care from a distance. Forced to limit in-person services, many focused on contactless service methods such as curbside pickup, mail order, and delivery.
Drive-thrus offer an efficient alternative to curbside and delivery methods with a dedicated, streamlined space for prescription pickups. The main advantages include:
- Improves safety for both patients and pharmacy staff
- Allows pharmacies to stay open and provide essential services during lockdowns
- Opens up streamlined service offering alongside other alternative prescription delivery methods
- Allows pharmacies to offer new services safely, such as COVID-19 tests
- Protects immunocompromised from infection and reduces spread of infection from sick patients
Pharmacy Drive-Thru Best Practices
Amid quarantines and state-wide restrictions, drive-thrus have proved instrumental in keeping pharmacy businesses open and helping them provide an effective pandemic response. With a constant need for COVID-19 testing and now vaccinations, drive-thrus can continue to be a value-add service for pharmacies long-term.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you set up your pharmacy drive-thru.
Promote safe services
Suggest drive-thru at every opportunity to promote social distancing and divert patients from in-person pickups. Unlike other delivery services, drive-thrus make it possible to offer pre-scheduled services such as testing.
Create clear signage
Make sure your outdoor signage for curbside pickup and drive-thrus are large and easy-to-read with pharmacy contact information. Include clear and easy instructions for directions, parking, and any other requirements, such as when to wear a mask.
Leverage your current technologies
Let patients know about your drive-thru on every communication and marketing channel you use. Record an automated message for your voicemail or IVR, and include the information in pharmacy emails. Consider posting about the service on social media and adding a banner to your website.
Implement digital tools to increase efficiency
Drive-thrus are sometimes subject to processing delays, rushed customer service, and dispensing errors if staff are distracted by multiple duties. Find ways to streamline the drive-thru workflow with digital tools that help you keep patients informed while managing prescription pickups and processing efficiently.
Safe Pharmacy Communication With Digital Tools
To make the most of your pharmacy drive-thru offering, it’s important to use tools that maximize patient communication while keeping contact minimal.
Digital Pharmacist’s Patient Engagement Platform (PEP) offers an all-in-one solution for digital pharmacy-patient communication. Eliminating the need for phone calls and in-store pickups, the PEP helps your pharmacy operate smoothly and offer quality patient care and customer service.
Ways the PEP can support your pharmacy drive-thru:
- Simplified communication. With the PEP’s bulk and targeted messaging capabilities, you can message patients directly about their pickup orders and send drive-thru directions straight to their phone. Our customized templates also allow you to create your own messages like order is ready, waiting list updates, or drive-thru delays.
- Secure information-sharing. Our HIPAA-compliant platform makes it easy to ask and answer questions securely and share protected health information, such as insurance information. Speed up the pickup process with a system that allows you to request information in a timely manner.
- Streamline orders and pickups. Send targeted, timed notifications to patients, reminding them of pickups and appointments. You can also leverage messaging to ask patients about their OTC and health product needs and add them to their drive-thru order to increase pharmacy business.
To learn more about how Digital Pharmacist’s digital engagement solutions can support your pharmacy drive-thru, request your free software demo today.