A Cure for Flu Season
Doris Pitts, medical assistant supervisor at Greenhouse Internists in Philadelphia, remembers the “refrigerator problem” she used to face every flu season. For most of the year, her practice’s two refrigerators comfortably stored all the vaccines needed for its 3,000+ patients. But come flu season, the refrigerators would overflow when the entire season’s vaccine inventory rolled in at once.
Ms. Pitts headed up Greenhouse’s seasonal flu efforts, and fridge space wasn’t her only problem—she also had to accurately predict how much flu vaccine to buy, secure doses before ordering closed, negotiate the best pricing, and more. And despite her best planning, the practice often had leftover inventory at the end of the season.
Such issues are common during flu season, as most practices struggle to protect their patients against the yearly threat of influenza while navigating the administrative, financial, and operational challenges that come with carrying flu vaccines. For some practices, the hassles and/or financial risk are simply too much. They outsource their flu shots to local pharmacies or health departments, thereby forfeiting valuable opportunities for additional care.
When Greenhouse became a VaxCare partner four years ago, flu vaccine management was one of the biggest problems it needed us to solve. But checking in with Ms. Pitts in 2021, we found that her “refrigerator problem” was a distant memory. Here’s how we did it:
No More Inventory Hassles (or Ordering!)
Predicting inventory quantities, meeting pre-order dates and cutoffs, staying up to date on vaccine costs and reimbursement—flu season ordering presented Ms. Pitts with a mountain of work. And so she’s been thrilled with how VaxCare simplified the process.
“Every year, we’d have to try to figure out how many shots we needed and negotiate with the different suppliers to get there, and then order these huge amounts to make sure we had enough for our patients.” she says. “With VaxCare, all of that’s taken care of.”
Before partnering with VaxCare, Greenhouse Internists had difficulty storing the massive influx of seasonal flu doses. But with VaxCare, Ms. Pitts no longer worries about storage issues, as new inventory automatically arrives right when it’s needed.
“We never have to worry about turning someone away and sending them to their neighborhood pharmacy,” she says. “We always have exactly what we need on hand.” And at the end of the season, VaxCare’s comprehensive return policy means Greenhouse can send the rest of its stock back to us for a full reimbursement—saving doses, money, and time.
Instant Eligibility & Program Visibility
“Before VaxCare, we often didn’t know if a patient’s insurance was going to pay for a vaccine,” Ms. Pitts says. “But the doctors want them to get their shots, of course, so we’d give them anyway and ate the cost if they weren’t covered. We don’t have that issue anymore: The VaxCare Hub shows all our patients’ eligibility. If they’re not covered, we insist they go to the pharmacy to get their vaccine—especially if they’re Medicare Part D.”
We never have to worry about turning someone away and sending them to their neighborhood pharmacy. We always have exactly what we need on hand.
Medical Assistant Supervisor, Greenhouse Internists
And while Greenhouse’s inventory is managed by VaxCare, the Hub still provides complete visibility into its vaccine program—if a discrepancy arises, Customer Care is there to help. “The few times we’ve had an issue, technical or otherwise, I’m always able to get someone on the phone, and they’re able to solve whatever the issue is right away,” Ms. Pitts says.
Never Going Back
As Greenhouse Internists prepares for the especially unpredictable flu season ahead, Pitts is relieved to have VaxCare on her side—in fact, she wouldn’t have it any other way. When a Greenhouse physician suggested abandoning VaxCare after a minor technical glitch, Ms. Pitts put her foot down.
“I said ‘No! We can’t do that!’” she remembers. “I love that we have VaxCare to manage our inventory and take care of our billing. I can’t imagine going back to the old way.”