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The future of travel is now! Pharmacists can help

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Pavithra Ravi

Travel isn’t something that many of us are doing right now but it is something a lot of us are dreaming of. Though it may seem like something that is a ways away there are already people travelling today and some who will be travelling soon, especially now that the borders are reopening.

What does the role of the pharmacist look like during the future of travel?

Since the introduction of the requirements for COVID-19 testing worldwide travel has been a confusing area for most people. A lot of this confusion has been ending up at the pharmacy and it may not stop any time soon. How prepared are you for the future of travel?

Set up expectations

Travel comes with a lot of questions now. Can I travel there? Can I come back? Do I need a test? Do I need to quarantine? When will I get my results? When do I take my test? Do I need other documentation?

There are a lot of questions floating around and that's no surprise. Information is not always readily available and some of the information that is accessible isn’t always very clear. It is important to set expectations for your patients as well as your staff.

Staff may feel they need to provide answers to patients calling in, but this is not the most efficient use of their time. Help staff feel reassured that we are health care providers and are there for their patient’s health care needs. Unfortunately, we do not have any more access to extra travel regulations than they do. Have some key speaking points set up for staff so they are comfortable responding this way. It is important to note that setting expectations is not easy. Not all staff members will be comfortable doing this. Consider providing all staff the needed information but have one or two champions staff can call on to handle these calls. It is important that when dealing with patients they are not given short shrift but are informed that pharmacies have certain information and unfortunately do not have all the information on specifics.

Know the right resources

How to help can be complicated when there are a lot of resources available. Understanding what the right resources are can be key in helping staff be prepared for the future of travel in your pharmacy.

The following sites can help your patients better understand their travel situation:

It is a lot to ask staff to know the ins and out of travel at a time when things are changing all the time. Providing them with quick references can help provide patients with signposts to where they can find answers. If you happen to know or be near a travel agency or other travel information posts, it may be beneficial to refer patients to these experts, who keep up to date with the latest travel industry changes. Keeping a quick reference sheet or tear away pad with information and contact details for staff to use can help answer patient questions quickly.

Grab the opportunity to show your pharmacy’s value add

How your pharmacy handles travel in the future can really help you stand out as a value add to patients. Travel will be a lot different from what we are accustomed to. People are more aware than ever of the impacts of infections and diseases. Use this opportunity to help bring awareness to the needed precautions for travel. This can range from first aid supplies, over the counter medications, and packaging medication to be more travel friendly to ensuring all needed vaccinations are taken and are current. More than ever, people see the value of vaccinations so highlighting the risks and uses of vaccinations (not just Covid) can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

The future of travel is bound to be different from the "old days." But a future with travel is coming. There are people who will embrace it as soon as borders open while others will be more cautious. Regardless, we will be the frontline healthcare workers many of these patients see first.

As travel returns, your pharmacy may want to:

  • proactively hold information clinics on how to travel safely
  • have travel ready kits available to patients
  • ensure there are flags in your workflow to doublecheck all proper vaccinations for travelling patients are considered

Ensure your pharmacy and staff are ready and equipped to best support and help your patients.

Pavithra Ravi is a pharmacist, speaker and business development consultant with experience in specialty pharmacy, LTC pharmacy and retail pharmacy.



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