Metro Detroit pharmacies, hospitals build income, goodwill by being COVID-19 vaccinators

“It’s different with hospitals because mostly the nonprofits have a mission, a community mission that includes health care. It’s pretty easy to link vaccinations to their community mission,” Friedman said.

“But when you look at drug stores, vaccinating patients is just a great emotional connection with customers in a really competitive business,” he said. “They are competing for street corners and the grocery stores, and Walmart and Target have entered the pharmacy market and are very competitive.”

People who get vaccinated against influenza, shingles, and now the coronavirus can become a life event that offers a more meaningful and memorable shopping experience than other retail products, Friedman said.

“(Pharmacies) brings people to the back of a retail store. This is exactly the place retailers want you to go to. If you have to go to the back of the store, you’ll likely be spending money in the store.” in the front or in the middle of the shop while you’re there, “Friedman said.

In a statement to Crain about the use of the data collected, CVS Health spokesman Charlie Rice-Minoso said it was vital for the public to receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

“That’s why we use the contact information patients give us when they register for appointments to remind them of their appointments frequently, especially for the second dose,” said Rice-Minoso.

In addition to CVS, Crain reached out to Walgreens Co., Rite Aid, Kroger, and Walmart pharmacies for interviews about their marketing campaigns and how the companies use the information they collect from registration forms.

Michigan-based Kroger Co. declined to comment. Rite Aid did not respond to multiple inquiries. Walgreens emailed a statement.

“Walgreens plays an important role in delivering COVID-19 vaccines to communities across the country. Our goal is to lead people to health and wellbeing on a safe, personalized path,” said spokesman Alex Brown in the statement.

“Our multi-faceted approach to marketing will help build confidence in the vaccine and provide fair access to vaccines through strategic partnerships and outside vaccination clinics,” said Brown.

To date, Walgreens has delivered more than 12 million vaccines as part of its “This Is Our Shot” campaign, which the Deerfield, Illinois-based company hopes will help end the pandemic. The campaigns contain information about social media, including videos and other promotional messages on the website.

“While significant numbers of people are hesitant about the vaccine and credible voices – including celebrities, influencers, faith-based organizations, community leaders, and Walgreens pharmacists – can play an important role in building confidence in the vaccine,” Brown said.

Brian Swartz, an independent pharmacist who owns Pharmacy Care and Gifts in Middleville, a suburb of Grand Rapids, said independent pharmacies are vastly different from large retail chains in the way they market and sell products.

“I can tell you that 99.9 percent of independent pharmacies follow this (HIPAA) rule, realizing that we cannot create email lists of the information we receive from patients,” said Swartz .

For example, when registering for a vaccination, patients are asked a variety of personal medical questions, including age, gender, chronic illnesses, and medication used.

“We talk to patients about concerns before we give them the vaccine,” said Swartz. “We collect this information, but it is not shared with anyone except for reimbursement settlement. This is proprietary health information that we must keep for 10 years.”

Another threat posed by registering and sending your protected health information to multiple pharmacies or hospitals for a COVID-19 vaccine is related to the increasing number of cyberattacks.

Geroux said the large number of people registering for vaccines increased the risk of medical information being disclosed by a hacker in the event of a cybersecurity breach.

Dozens of health systems and organizations are hacked by ransomware and phishing scams every year. In 2020, 642 health organizations were hacked, a 25 percent increase from the previous record year, according to the HIPAA journal, which is based on federal statistics.

“These threat actors are incredibly sophisticated. Last month the FBI issued a known threat warning to emergency services and government agencies that their security could be compromised on their networks,” said Geroux. “We know healthcare is the number one industry to be hit by cybersecurity breaches.”

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