Several national pharmacy chains are preparing to roll out testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the coming weeks, including Health Mart, Kroger Co and other chain pharmacies.
This expansion was made possible by a public-private partnership between eTrueNorth, a medical technology company that allows laboratory research in retail pharmacies, and various national chains. According to the press release, local pharmacies play an important role in extending testing to rural areas and hard-to-reach populations.
“Americans trust their local pharmacy,” said coral may, CEO and President of eTrueNorth, in a statement. “In fact, 95% of the US population lives within 5 miles of a pharmacy.”
Although this process may vary depending on the brand of pharmacy, patients usually visit the website to find testing locations and answer some qualifying questions. If their symptoms meet the CDC’s recommendations, they are issued a voucher and assigned a scheduled date and time for the test.
“The voucher system manages the pre-and post-testing process,” may said in a statement. “Once on site, people self-inject a nasal swab into their vehicles in a “pass” or similar model—there is no testing in stores.”
The eTrueNorth voucher system was introduced in 2018 for individuals in need of clinical testing, and was used to help pass testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pharmacists will also play a larger role in this process following the announcement by the Department of health and human services (HHS) that pharmacists can order and conduct COVID-19 tests.
“Giving pharmacists permission to order and prescribe COVID-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar, JD, said in a press release. “Pharmacists play a vital role in providing convenient access to important public health services and information.”
According to a press release, Kroger plans to expand the end-to-end testing model to 50 locations in more than 12 States and conduct up to 100,000 tests by the end of may.
Health Mart plans to create a prescription-based testing model that will be offered nationwide through individual pharmacies serving low-income and vulnerable populations.