October 29th, 2012 by David E. Williams of the Health business blog
I decided it was time for my flu shot yesterday and decided to give the local Walgreens a try after my usual chain pharmacy was rude on the phone. I was impressed with my experience and plan to go back. When I called the store the pharmacy staffer who picked up was pleasant and informative. I then walked in, filled out a form, registered for the new loyalty program and took a seat in the pharmacy waiting area.
The pharmacist came out a couple minutes later, escorted me to a private zone, explained what to expect from the shot and what to do if I had side effects, and then administered it. My Blue Cross HMO paid the full $31.99 cost. The pharmacist noticed I had Express Scripts (which Walgreens recently made up with after a fight) and invited me to bring my prescriptions there in the future. She was very pleasant and I think I might just make the switch. It felt a lot like the personal attention one would expect from an independent pharmacist.
Clearly Walgreens is promoting vaccines –they are offering generous bonus points on the loyalty program and advertising it in the window. The strategy makes good sense. They are performing a public health function, making the process very convenient, utilizing the staff they already have on hand, and gaining the opportunity to make a sales pitch.
They only need a small amount of space to offer this service. It seems like a better model than an in-store clinic staffed by a nurse practitioner. If all the staff are as professional and relationship-oriented as my pharmacists, this strategy is likely to pay-off.