Pharmacy Practice & Business (Canadian Healthcare Network): Virtual care platform used to schedule vaccine appointments

Virtual care platform used to schedule vaccine appointments

While some pharmacies bought new systems to handle COVID-19 vaccine bookings, DrugSmart pharmacies decided to use their existing virtual care platform to plan appointments.

By Kylie Taggart, for Pharmacy Practice + Business (Canadian Healthcare Network)

16/18/2021

Pharmacies across Canada are using different booking software to deal with scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
While some are buying new systems, DrugSmart pharmacies decided to use their existing virtual care platform to plan appointments. 

In Nova Scotia and Quebec, all COVID-19 vaccine appointments are made through the province’s booking system. Elsewhere, pharmacies are sourcing software to deal with unprecedented demand and shifting communication needs. Two examples are MedMe Health and MedEssist, both originally developed by pharmacists to manage flu vaccination appointments.

DrugSmart pharmacies in Ontario are using OnCall Health. The platform is designed to facilitate virtual care, but DrugSmart is using its schedule management capabilities to deal with vaccine bookings.

The patient selects from a drop-down list of what kind of service they want to book. Included in the list of options is a COVID-19 vaccine, along with other choices such as a virtual appointment with a pharmacist. The software then provides options from the DrugSmart pharmacies that are providing COVID-19 vaccines.

Nicholas Chepesiuk, CEO of OnCall Health, said that one benefit of using a virtual care platform to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments is that it provides easy access to a pharmacist. “If they ever need to do follow-up consultation with a patient, or check in, whether it is over video or text, they can maintain that continuity of care in a way that’s convenient for the patient,” he said.

Chepesiuk said that prior to adding the appointments to the DrugSmart website, OnCall Health made sure it was able to support a large volume of traffic.

Like other scheduling platforms, outgoing messages to patients can be tailored to meet the pharmacy’s needs and digital consent forms can be securely shared with patients.

There are still some things to iron out. For example, patient information has to be exported manually from the OnCall Health secure database to the pharmacy’s pharmacy management software. But Erin Anderson, director of sales and marketing of DrugSmart, said that OnCall Health has been responsive to the pharmacy’s needs and integration between in-house software and OnCall Health’s platform is ongoing.

DrugSmart has seven pharmacy locations across Ontario.