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Pharmacy group’s flu revenue soars after vaccinating local businesses

Pharmacy manager Aneta Babol delivered 80 vaccinations in one day
Pharmacy manager Aneta Babol delivered 80 vaccinations in one day

An independent chain almost doubled the revenue from its private flu vaccination service after visiting nearby businesses, including a cashmere company

Cash-strapped community pharmacies throughout the UK are looking for innovative ways to increase their income without relying on the NHS. In 2017, the Lindsay and Gilmour group, which has 30 branches in Scotland, revitalised their private flu service by delivering it at the offices of local businesses.

The strategy boosted revenue from the service by 189% over three years, from £3,855 in 2016 to £11,160 in 2018-19. At the heart of this success, which was shortlisted for Business Initiative of the Year at the C+D Awards in June, was a willingness to step outside the pharmacy.

Aneta Babol, pharmacist and pharmacy manager at the branch in Hawick, Roxburghshire (pictured below), visited local cashmere production company Barrie last flu season. With the help of a pharmacy technician, she vaccinated 80 patients in one day, receiving £9.95 for each vaccination.

Ms Babol and the pharmacy technician set up a temporary clinic in a room at the business, complete with a mini-fridge to store the vaccines. Employees filled in vaccination forms in advance to help the day run smoothly, while a further 10 employees who could not make the clinic on that day visited her pharmacy at the weekend.

Ms Babol booked the visit herself through Barrie’s head office, after explaining the benefits of the flu jab to them. “They are happy their employees don’t have to take time off work to come to the pharmacy,” she says.

She has already organised another vaccination day at the Barrie offices this October, and is considering paying a visit to another business outside Hawick. Her venture contributed to the £4,103 of revenue Lindsay and Gilmour pharmacists earned by visiting businesses as part of the flu service, 37% of its total vaccination revenue.

App marketing

As part of revamping their flu jab service in 2017, Lindsay and Gilmour also raised awareness of their in-store service. The group invested in newspaper advertising, a poster campaign, a video and social media posts. Pharmacy staff also encouraged patients to ask about the flu service by wearing t-shirts and badges.

When they began offering patients the option of ordering their medication via the Healthera app, they also gave them the opportunity to book flu vaccinations via the platform. The app allows patients to ‘chat’ to pharmacy staff from their mobile.

Pharmacy staff also spoke directly to patients who they thought would be most likely to benefit, such as those looking for cold treatment or with respiratory conditions.

These efforts came on top of a training drive – the group now has 30 pharmacists carrying out the service across 22 branches.

Back at the Hawick branch, the team are gearing up for this year’s flu vaccination service, which is due to launch when stock arrives at the beginning of October. Patients are already enquiring about booking their appointments. This year, the branch will continue to promote the service to patients most likely to benefit, alongside campaigning to raise lung cancer awareness.

Boosting staff morale

Philip Galt, Lindsay and Gilmour managing director, said in his C+D Awards entry that the service helps promote the role of community pharmacy. “The promotion of the flu vaccination services has now brought to the local community's attention the fact that a pharmacist can provide a wide range of clinical services and is not there to simply dispense prescriptions.

“This, in turn, has had a significantly positive impact on staff morale and motivation across our pharmacy teams.” The service has also helped to increase referrals from GP practices and improved relations with local community organisations. As a result, other services offered by the pharmacy, such as the extended minor ailments scheme, are getting more attention. 

Mr Galt added: “The level of the service provided received excellent feedback, and will undoubtedly help to further the pharmacy's agenda if and when the flu vaccination becomes an NHS service in Scotland in the future.”

Sponsored: AAH tackles vitamin D deficiency in winter with Careway supplements

Careway vitamin D supplements can help patients boost their immune systems during the winter months, AAH has said.

The Careway Vitamin D 25µg supplements help patients get enough vitamin D, which is “crucial to properly activating our immune systems” during the cold and flu season, the wholeslaer said.

“Vitamin D is important as it helps the body regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, essential nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy,” AAH continued.

Patients should take one tablet a day.

One pack of Careway Vitamin D 25µg with 30 tablets retails at £1.29.

To order, call AAH on 0344 561 8899

Sponsored: Thornton & Ross adds sore throat lozenges to Covonia range

Thornton & Ross has introduced lozenges and a new flavour of spray for treating sore throats to its Covonia range.

Covonia Medicated Sore Throat 5mg/1mg Lozenges numb pain and fight infection with a dual-action formula of chlorhexidine dihydrochloride and lidocaine hydrochloride, Thornton & Ross said.

The sugar-free lozenges are available in lemon or menthol, the manufacturer adds.

Thornton & Ross also announced that its Covonia Sore Throat Spray 0.2/0.05%w/v will be available in a lemon flavour for the first time.

The sugar-free spray contains chlorhexidine gluconate and lidocaine hydrochloride, Thornton & Ross said. Each 30ml bottle contains up to 100 sprays.

Thornton & Ross will release a pharmacy training guide on treating sore throats, which you can pre-order by email.

One Covonia pack of 36 lozenges in lemon or menthol flavour retails at £5.99, while one 30ml Covonia Throat Spray in the same flavours retails at £7.39.

For more information, visit the Covonia website


Listen to C+D's podcast below on the benefits of delivering services outside of your pharmacy. You can subscribe to C+D's podcasts on iTunes or by searching 'Chemist+Druggist podcast' on your preferred android podcast app.

How do you market your flu vaccinations?

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

From practical point of view:

Say you make £2 profit per each NHS vac, that is 2*80 = £160 for the day profit.

Similarly if you do all private vacs (80), you might make max profit of £7 for each one administred.  That is £560 profit for the day. 

Deduct travel expenses/business use car insurance/locum cover/having technician with you for the day - you end up worse off when doing NHS vacs. 

For private vacs, you might end up making £100-200 profit.

Nitin Makadia, Pharmacist Director

This makes total commercial sense and any pharmacy can do this. Do the numbers and beware of the pitfalls. Remember this is about margin, not revenue, so deduct the cost of the vaccines, the pharmacist backfill, the support staff and the investment in a mini-fridge or vaccine carrier (although the latter is a one-off cost if you can secure more business). Also ensure you have some guarantee of numbers and minimum charge, so you don’t go in expecting to vaccinate 80 and only 50 staff turn up. With your foot in the door, don’t be shy about promoting other health & wellbeing / screening services to the business and their employees.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

That’s amazing work! I’m wondering how the vaccines got to the place though, before being in the fridge there? Vaccine carriers are horrendously expensive! 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I think, same way as it is delivered to the Pharmacy, in a cool box. I don't think it takes more than 10 to 15 minutes to reach the destination from the Pharmacy. How do you think GPs/ Nurses carry vaccines when they do home visits or care home visits for vaccination? Same here, I think.

Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

If my maths are correct thats 37 vacinations per branch?  Not a lot.

Still not a bad idea to target groups and do them as a batch rather than trying to grab people in the pharmacy ad hoc. I stuggle to get the worried well to part with a tenner

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