By Lucy Morris
With overseas visits by UK residents continuing to grow and research indicating that more people are planning to spend more money on their holidays and potentially visit more exotic locations, travel health continues to be a growing market, with holidays and visiting family and friends being the most popular reasons for the trip.
Travellers continue to visit countries where vaccinations and anti-malarials are recommended to help protect them from the diseases present in the countries they are visiting.
Demand not fully met
General Practices are only able to provide the following travel vaccinations under the NHS: polio (given as a combined diphtheria/ tetanus/polio jab), typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera.
Most GPs no longer offer the following vaccinations services to their patients and therefore need to be signposted to alternative providers: hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, meningitis, rabies, tuberculosis and yellow fever.
As there is currently a lack of convenient locations that can offer a comprehensive travel health and vaccination service, 40 per cent of people who travel to countries where there are known health risks, currently do not protect themselves appropriately.
Pharmacies should meet the following criteria:
- Have a suitable consultation area
- Have an acceptable system of clinical governance in place
- Have suitable indemnity insurance.
- The contractor should nominate a lead pharmacist who will have overall responsibility for the provision of this service on behalf of the contractor, acting as Clinical Governance Lead. P
- The service must be provided by suitably trained individual(s) working for the contractor.
Communicating with GPs
Working with GP practices to benefit patients can be challenging but also very important. Pharmacists starting a ‘Travel Health and Vaccination Service’ should approach their local practice(s) to outline the aims of the service.
It may be helpful for the pharmacist to highlight the improved patient care as a common theme between the two professions. It should be borne in mind that once a good relationship has been built with the practice, it may be easier to implement more services with their support.
Auditing the service
It is recommended that you audit this service. Local commissioners are always interested in ways pharmacists can improve the health of their population through both private and commissioned services. By auditing this service, you could then prove the difference you have made.
Local marketing reaches individual communities with a specialised message and can make it personal to the patient. Here are a few suggested ideas to market your service:
- Engage with an app such as Patient Access to make your service offering visible to over eight million potential customers.
- Contact local groups to display a poster and/or deliver a small talk on the service
- Contact religious, community and social groups
- Contact local GPs and their receptionists to promote the service
- Obtain printed shirts for your staff to wear
- Use bag stuffers for your local patients
- Initiate a travel health awareness campaign in the pharmacy incorporating the Travel Health and Vaccination Service
- Produce bag labels for prescriptions that mention the service
- Target local travel agents, sports centres
- Consider local and social media
All participating pharmacies should ideally provide clearly visible and viewable dedicated advertisement material such as poster and patient information leaflets indicating the availability of the Travel Health and Vaccination service.
Carrying out the service
You should think carefully about the travel clinic provider you choose to partner with to help you deliver the service. We partner with PharmaDoctor as they offer a wide range of PGDs which will help you deliver a comprehensive service.
PharmaDoctor also have an electronic tool that will help you step by step facilitate a conversation with your customers to determine their travel vaccination requirements.
The benefit of an electronic solution versus paper-based is that you have access to up to date travel advice and that you will have a secure log of patient records you can access at the touch of a button.
You’ll also be required to undertake the necessary vaccination training which should include the following criteria:
- Intramuscular and subcutaneous vaccination technique
- Identification and management of anaphylaxis
- Adrenaline autopens and ampoule draw up
- Basic life support (BLS)
- Consultation technique
You will need additional requirements to set up a yellow fever vaccination clinic (YFVC).
- Customers could be recruited onto the service through a range of referral routes: Self-referral P
- Opportunistically selected by pharmacists and their staff, for example patients purchasing sun creams or malaria prophylaxis
Referral from other healthcare professionals including:
- Other community pharmacists
- Referral from other businesses in the local community such as travel agents
Remember as part of the pharmacy contract any customers who your pharmacy cannot help should be suitably signposted.
The first thing to consider is the image of your pharmacy. Consider your team and the premises; does your pharmacy give a ‘health promotion’ image to potential clients and does the pharmacy stock health promotion leaflets in a clean and tidy manner?
Initiate a conversation about the person’s travel needs if they appear to be purchasing products to suggest travelling abroad. Explain the service offered and the importance of ensuring they have received all the recommended vaccinations for their travels.
Once you have completed each service it would be worth asking your customer to give an overview of the service provided and if they would recommend the service to others. It may be useful to keep a record you can use to demonstrate the success of your service which could be used to engage with your local practice and also be used for marketing purposes.
Delivering a travel clinic can be very profitable and with remuneration moving away from dispensing and into service provision, setting up a clinic can be not only commercially rewarding but also help increase your customer base as well as enhancing loyalty.
Numark and Rowlands pharmacies have partnered with the makers of the UK’s biggest patient online services platform Patient Access. The Patient Access app gives patients an efficient route to access healthcare services such as ordering repeat medication and booking GP appointments.
The addition of enabling other healthcare appointments is a new way for people to access services such as travel from their local Numark or Rowlands pharmacy.
We also offer a wealth of support for members wanting to set up a travel clinic which covers everything from training to marketing materials.
Lucy Morris is Patient Services Manager at Numark.
This article also appears in the March issue of Pharmacy Business.