Pharmacies have been offering efficient service through drive-thrus for over 30 years.
Although the concept was invented in 1951 by Calvin Michael Burton, it didn’t become popular until 1991 when Walgreens opened its very first drive-thru location.
The drive-thru was originally invented to save time on prescription dispensing, but they became a huge asset to pharmacists and customers alike during the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.
Advantages of the Drive-Thru
During the pandemic, healthcare facilities have had to provide care to patients from a distance. In-person interactions have been limited, and many facilities focused on methods like curbside pickup and delivery instead.
Drive-thrus were a huge aid to the contactless methods, as they provided a streamlined space where patients could easily receive prescriptions and care alike. The advantages of a drive-thru include:
● Safe interactions for patients and staff
● Pharmacies can stay open and provide services during lockdown
● Allows pharmacies to offer COVID-19 tests safely
● Protects the immunocompromised from infection
● Reduces the spread of virus from sick patients
● Makes available a tried-and-true streamlined service alongside prescription delivery
Best Practices for Pharmacy Drive-Thrus
Drive-thrus have been essential for service during quarantines and statewide restrictions of contact, which has helped businesses respond to the pandemic. There has been an ongoing need for COVID-19 testing and, more recently, vaccinations, and drive-thrus are a great place to provide those services with the least contact possible.
To follow are a few of the best practices to remember as you set up or maintain your pharmacy drive-thru:
● Promote Safe Services
Promoting drive-thru services at every opportunity can encourage social distancing and dissuade patients from picking up in-person. Drive-thrus also make it possible to deliver services like testing that are scheduled ahead of time.
● Make Clear Signs
In order for your patients to know that your drive-thru services exist, they have to be able to see the signage. Make sure that your signs for curbside pickup and your drive-thru are large and easy to read, while also including contact information for your pharmacy. Other helpful instructions like directions, parking, and when to wear a mask are helpful as well.
● Use Your Current Technology
You can spread the word about your drive-thru on the communication platforms that you already use. For example, you can record an automated message for your IVR and include pertinent information in your weekly newsletter. It never hurts to add this info to social media and website banners, too.
● Introduce Digital Tools
At times, drive-thrus can experience delays, heavy rushes, and dispensing errors - especially when things get hectic. You can find ways to streamline the drive-thru process and your staff’s workflow by implementing digital tools that keep patients in-the-know while your staff manages pickups and processes.
Utilizing Digital Tools for Communication
In order to get the most that you can out of your drive-thru, it’s essential to use tools that maximize patient communication - but without all the contact.
Keeping in touch with your patients virtually - online through mediums like social media, email, and your website - you can make sure that they know that you’re always there for them, even if it’s not always face-to-face.
Your Pharmacy Drive-Thru
Implementing or improving your pharmacy’s drive-thru is a way to continue care for your patients even amidst unprecedented times. You can keep serving your customers and encouraging optimal health for everyone while keeping a safe distance - with the help of your drive-thru, you can protect your community while protecting your business as well.