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Navigating Cold, Flu, and COVID Season Safely with Pharmacy Queue Management

by Qtrac

Nowadays, that subtle tickle in your throat might cause slightly more anxiety than it used to. With the overlap of flu and COVID-19 season, it’s understandable if you’re worried about getting sick. We all want to take the proper precautions to protect ourselves and others from falling ill. However, many businesses that require in-person services are struggling to maintain an adequate level of safety as demand increases and people revert to a more relaxed retail environment.

Virtual queuing software ensures everyone, especially those who are immunocompromised or ill, can safely access pharmacy services. These services, such as vaccinations, prescription fulfillments, and wellness screenings, require in-person interactions at some point in the patient workflow, presenting a potential but necessary risk. Fortunately, that risk can be mitigated with the help of digital queuing technology from Qtrac.

The Importance of Efficient Pharmacy Queues

Improving patient flow in your pharmacy means shorter wait times and better service—and, therefore, higher customer satisfaction.

We all know that insufficient queue management practices inevitably lead to frustrated and dissatisfied customers. But this consequence is just the tip of the iceberg, especially when it comes to retail pharmacy operations.

Implications of Inefficient Queuing

Optimizing patient flow with good queue management is essential for providing the best experience for everyone from customers to associates and supervisors. When we fail to properly manage pharmacy queues, we run the risk of:

  • Crowded waiting rooms and unnecessarily long lines
  • Avoidable errors caused by rushing to complete tasks
  • Potential harm to brand reputation (due to chronically dissatisfied customers)
  • Low retention and increased potential of line abandonment
  • Decreased productivity and increased burnout in disengaged employees

Of course, all of these factors are secondary to the very real threat of illness transmission, particularly during peak seasons. Naturally, no business can completely eradicate this risk, but queue management software for pharmacies can effectively reduce these hazards while helping improve workplace performance.

How Virtual Queuing Prioritizes Patient Well-Being

Modern queuing technology offers essential solutions for keeping patients safe and satisfied while simultaneously making tasks easier for staff members to manage. Through task automation, detailed data capture, and mobile queuing, pharmacies can boost business without uprooting their current procedures. Virtual queuing leverages smart devices to eliminate the need for physical lines, improving in-store operations and the patient experience. Here’s how:

Enabling Social Distancing

One important way pharmacies use queue management systems to keep patients safe is by facilitating sufficient physical space, thus adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and social distancing mandates. Virtual queuing technology helps to eliminate or significantly reduce the need for physical lines by expanding the waiting area to virtually anywhere, so facilities can accommodate multiple waiting guests regardless of a location’s size.

Decongesting waiting rooms is an excellent approach for reducing the likelihood of sharing germs during peak cold and flu season. This effort helps promote community safety by allowing for more physical space between customers, lessening the chances of pathogen exposure and cross-contamination.

Offering Digital Solutions for Remote Queuing

Technology-driven solutions allow patients to join pharmacy queues remotely. Plus, visitors can easily manage their appointments or change their position in the queue if necessary, all with the press of a button.

Today’s digital queuing solutions successfully minimize physical contact between people, including pharmacy associates, by employing personal devices for queue management. Digitizing data previously collected using pen and paper reduces the spread of germs by relying instead on remote connections to communicate important information. This contactless transfer of data is typically facilitated by a patient’s own mobile device on the customer side and a handheld tablet or computer on the staff side.

With virtual queue management, pharmacies can avoid sharing physical documentation and utensils (e.g., pens and clipboards) that may harbor harmful germs. Encrypted, secure digital data collection and storage also protect sensitive patient information from being compromised.

Preserving Medication Accessibility

According to a 2022 survey performed by Wolters Kluwer, the majority of Americans (51 percent) worry about potential problems with their prescriptions as a result of understaffed pharmacies. The same survey revealed a number of other common concerns among pharmacy goers, including:

  • 50 percent of respondents worry about receiving the wrong dosage
  • 50 percent of respondents worry about receiving the wrong medication
  • 47 percent of respondents worry about receiving the wrong instructions

These results reveal valuable insights regarding widespread pharmacy challenges that can be alleviated by queuing technology, automated workflows, and improved staffing. Queue management software integrates necessary processes, optimizing functionality for both staff members and patients. Optimizing these workflows helps ensure patients obtain the right prescription, including correct dosages and directions, with access to consultations and additional support if needed.

Enhancing Patient Education

Apart from consultation options, patients also need seamless access to other helpful educational materials to keep them informed of any necessary updates in the healthcare space. Digital queuing technology allows pharmacies to deliver targeted messages directly to a patient’s device before or after their appointment, or even while they wait.

The ability to reach customers directly through this type of branded messaging presents numerous marketing and awareness opportunities. Before an appointment, a pharmacy might send a customer a coupon, voucher, or other offer they can take advantage of when they come in. During their wait, a pharmacy can send a link to a short video detailing specific information about a prescription, helpful preventative measures, or perhaps a relevant news bulletin. Post-service communications can include an offer to receive live updates, symptom management tips, or even information about clinical trial eligibility for their condition.

Leveraging Technology for Added Visibility

Leadership teams with access to reliable historical data can make more informed business decisions and boost forecasting efforts. Pharmacy queue management software collects this necessary data and aggregates it, making it easy to track performance, monitor behavior, and predict customer flow.

Detailed and encrypted data capture means pharmacies can compile, organize, and protect information while leveraging valuable insights for:

  • Tracking seasonality
  • Preregistering patients, streamlining patient intake, and triaging
  • Obtaining and viewing client history
  • Receiving and sending accessibility alerts

These functions create unmatched visibility using advanced data analysis to personalize the patient experience while simultaneously easing pressure on pharmacy employees.

How to Reduce Pharmacy Wait Times & Keep Everyone Safe

Qtrac systems offer effective pharmacy queue management strategies that work to both reduce wait times and protect customers from unnecessary extended exposure. This capability is particularly important during peak cold and flu season, and especially now with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. As seasonal symptomatic illnesses fluctuate and COVID-19 remains on the radar, pharmacies and other retail establishments must prioritize getting customers in and out of their establishments as efficiently as possible without sacrificing productivity and customer safety..

By implementing remote and contactless queuing solutions, we can create an environment that is safer for everyone and more able to meet diverse operational needs. A digital solution from Qtrac allows your facility to:

  • Enable safe social distancing efforts
  • Prioritize accessibility to pharmacy services
  • Enhance patient experience and education

Plus, our supportive product specialists make system setup and staff onboarding quick and easy, so you can start preparing your team for cold and flu season before it begins. Don’t sacrifice service quality for safety—with Qtrac, your pharmacy can improve both.

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