Like many pharmacists across the country, Jana Bennett, RPh, head pharmacist at a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in Sherman, Texas, had to react quickly when she received only five days’ notice of the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines. She knew there would be a wave of demand for the vaccines in her community, and she wanted to be ready and able to vaccinate as many patients as possible, quickly, without wasting any doses.
Outcomes™ and Fuse, the innovation engine and product development center at Cardinal Health, regularly collaborate with Bennet and other pharmacists to ensure solutions meet their current and future needs. During one of her conversations with Cardinal Health, Bennett shared the need for a patient scheduling solution to help her manage requests for COVID-19 vaccines in an organized, efficient manner, one that could be implemented rapidly to meet urgent needs.
“I have always gotten such great support from the folks at Cardinal Health,” she said. “I thought that if anyone could help, it would be them.”
Cardinal Health’s clinical and technology experts responded quickly and developed MyScheduling, a clinical service scheduling tool that allows pharmacies to set up multiple appointment types, schedule appointments, send patients reminders and manage their calendar. It also lets patients make, change or cancel their own appointments, dramatically reducing the administrative burden on pharmacies. Additionally, the tool can help pharmacies forecast staffing needs, gather screening and demographic information from patients in advance and manage vaccine supply based on demand.
“Our teams mobilized quickly to help pharmacies fulfill their essential role in getting their communities vaccinated,” said Brent Stutz, SVP/GM of Outcomes. “We produced the solution in a week and within a month, the solution was implemented in nearly 100 pharmacies.”
Today, the MyScheduling tool is being used by more than 1,600 pharmacy customers nationwide. It’s available through the Outcomes Connect™ platform, which supports 23 million patients at more than 60,000 pharmacy locations nationwide.
“The integration of MyScheduling into the existing Outcomes Connect platform highlights how technology infused with customer-centric design and collaborative, agile thinking is essential to driving healthcare innovation forward,” said Ray Bajaj, Chief Technology Officer at Cardinal Health.
Bennett said, “MyScheduling saved the day for us when our COVID-19 vaccines began arriving. Thanks to the support we received from Cardinal Health and the digital tool they created, we’ve administered more than 3,000 vaccines to patients in our community and surrounding areas. Now, with a single greeter and an immunizer, we can serve three to five people every 15 minutes. We’re also able to schedule their second dose while they’re in the store. What could have been quite a stressful and chaotic time for us was transformed into a very smooth, orderly process.”
The tool came at a critical time in the vaccine effort for pharmacies across the country. To ramp up vaccination distribution, the Biden administration expanded the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, working with nearly 40,000 pharmacies nationwide to offer shots on a walk-in basis. According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, 40 percent of patients surveyed said that getting a vaccine at their local pharmacist would be their first or second choice.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our teams have come together to develop new tools and technology solutions to help our retail pharmacy customers better serve their patients during this challenging time,” said Debbie Weitzman, President, Pharmaceutical Segment. “Enhancements to our Outcomes Connect platform and new solutions like MyScheduling are helping our pharmacy customers pursue their goals and deliver more comprehensive care – now, and in the future.”
Above: Jana Bennett, RPh, and her team in Sherman, Texas.