|QS/1 Logs 30 Years||| Print ||
While many pharmacy software companies sprung up in the 1980s when personal computers became affordable, few have achieved the staying power of QS/1 . Tammy Devine, QS/1 senior VP, is one employee who has been with the company for more than 25 years and has witnessed its remarkable growth. She proudly says that QS/1 is now the largest provider of pharmacy technology in the country. And this year marks its 30th year. “This may be our 30th anniversary, but every QS/1 system is built on 80 years of real-world pharmacy expertise,” says Devine.
QS/1’s beginnings date back to J.M. Smith, Sr., a savvy community pharmacist, who in the late 1920s, grew his business into 16 stores across three states. Years later, he sold the pharmacy chain to start a wholesale drug company that’s still in existence today.
When his son, J.M. Smith, Jr., saw that customers could work more efficiently using the technology the wholesale drug company developed, he translated his vision and behind-the-counter experience into the first QS/1 pharmacy management system.
QS/1 installed its first system in 1977, which was powered by an IBM Series/1 computer. The QS/1 name itself is a blend of the pharmacy term “quantum sufficit” and the “/1” for the Series/1 computer.
While the initial years saw steady growth for the company, the market exploded with the introduction of the personal computer in 1982. According to Devine, building the QS/1 system around the PC reduced the price by half, so virtually every pharmacy could afford a system.
“Today,” she notes, “QS/1
offers the industry’s most comprehensive complement of technology for automating and managing pharmacies of all kinds and sizes.” QS/1 has management systems specially designed for independent pharmacies, chain pharmacies, pharmacies with HME departments, stand-alone HME providers, outpatient pharmacies, university health-system pharmacies, and long-term care pharmacies.
Now with a network of offices that spans the United States and more than 550 employees, Devine says that QS/1 actually supports more than 90,000 pharmacy workstations. While that may sound like a staggering number, Devine explains that the company has some very large accounts with hundreds of workstations. Because of the need to communicate to a large number of customers, the company’s new message center service tailors alerts that are workstation specific. “If we know a third party has scheduled maintenance time, we can send that message directly to the workstations that will be affected,” Devine says.
QS/1 has also put considerable resources into system enhancement and technology development over the years. The results are systems and services that can tie the entire pharmacy together with integrated technology — not interfaces. Devine makes an important distinction between integration and interface. Integration, she notes, provides a more efficient flow of information among the different systems, as opposed to an interface that may not be bi-directional. When one company develops an integrated system, it has the advantage of tying more of the pieces together, thus offering more functionality.
One big difference that Devine has noticed these days is the way pharmacists look at technology. Because of the pharmacist shortage and the number of prescriptions being filled, system security is an issue. “There is a need to know who is doing what in the system in order to ensure patient privacy
and safety, particularly with the integration of so many different systems,” Devine says.
QS/1’s innovative roots are still at work today. Devine points out that the company was one of the first software developers to offer claims transmission through its own unique PowerLine claims switch. More recently, QS/1’s QDM automated dispensing system has made automated dispensing affordable for pharmacies.
“What’s important in the development of our systems,”
says Devine, “is that QS/1 uses working pharmacy test sites to help ensure new systems and software enhancements integrate as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”
When asked what technology she feels has had the greatest impact on pharmacy over the years, Devine singles out real-time claims adjudication. This has allowed pharmacy to survive the tremendous growth in prescriptions filled that are covered by increasingly complex rules for reimbursement.
While celebrating the past, Devine says QS/1 continues to look ahead by identifying emerging industry trends and looking for ways that technology can address these. Future innovation will remain true to the ideals of founder J.M. Smith, Jr., and the term “quantum sufficit”: that pharmacy management extends far beyond dispensing to provide everything a business needs to be more successful. CT