|Speed Script Celebrates 30th Anniversary||| Print ||
Speed Script is marking its 30th anniversary, and today supports over 350 pharmacies in 35 states with IT solutions for prescription processing, third-party reconciliation, workflow, LTC, and DME. Some of its service offerings include off-site backups, remote pharmacy access to multiple sites, and Web site development. In this interview with ComputerTalk, Ron Davis, president of the company, talks about how they got started and where he sees the business headed.
CT: Give us a little background on the founding of Speed Script. How did you get started in the business?
Davis: My brother-in-law, Mike Ravis, who owned a drug store in Kansas City, came to me one day in the late 1970s. I held a degree in computer science, and he wanted to know if a computer could help him organize his files and manage his third-party billing. For over a year, I worked with Mike and many other pharmacists in the Kansas City area, learning the industry and writing code. Those early years had their own special challenges. We lacked any standard drug database at that time. Universal claim forms were not really very universal. Worse, a lot of states had regulations that were not computer friendly.
Word of mouth soon spread to other pharmacists who wanted to invest in automation technology. But many pharmacists were reluctant to accept the technology. It was new then, and most pharmacists didn’t understand what a computer could do for them. Many were just afraid to use them. It required lots of handholding and personalized on-site training to get the pharmacists, techs, and owners comfortable with the many features and tools. At the same time, their patients were also being educated as to the benefits of the new computer. So there were really two fronts we had to address — patients and pharmacists.
It wasn’t until, I think, the mid-1980s that pharmacies really started to embrace computers. By then we had a decent number of customers. The start of a new industry was suddenly underway.
CT: From your vantage point, what were the biggest challenges over the years?
Davis: Over the past 30 years, there have been a great number of new advances in computer technology that helped bring down the cost of computing and increase speed and storage capacity. In the early years, a few megabytes of storage were about the most you could get. New technologies dramatically increased disk capacity, and tape backups soon replaced floppies. The advent of laser printers produced crisper and better-looking labels, while making the pharmacy a quieter place to work. In looking back, there were four major developments in our industry that made the pharmacists sit up and say they needed a computer system or needed to upgrade their existing one. The first was online real-time claims adjudication. No longer could a paper claim be written by hand and submitted to a third-party plan. The second was OBRA ’90. Now patient information about the prescription had to be printed out and given to the patient along with appropriate counseling. The third was HIPAA, compelling the industry to adopt electronic signature capture, barcode scanning technology, and better electronic security to protect patient privacy. And the fourth, today, is electronic prescribing, which is paving the way toward electronic patient medical records.
CT: What do you feel are the strengths of the software, based on the feedback from users?
Davis: We have always strived to make Speed Script live up to its name. If there is one thing that we constantly hear from our pharmacies, it’s how quickly and easily they can fill a prescription. Today, we look at our software as a tool for running a complete business and ensuring that everything we do will help generate more profit, increase patient safety, and prevent dispensing errors. Services like refill reminders, third-party reconciliation, pre- and post-edits, front-end merchandising, and better inventory control all help increase profits. Today pharmacists have to really run their pharmacies as a business, so everything we do helps increase that bottom line and gives patients the best possible experience.
CT: Do you have an interesting story that stands out in your memory and does a good job of defining what Speed Script means to you and your customers?
Davis: Yes. Sam Boyajian of Gardner Pharmacy in Gardner, Kan., is a good example of what Speed Script means to our customers. He bought a store and started with us in 1983, I believe. Soon after, he gave us a call because he had a problem with his system. Sam still tells me how impressed he was that we sent three people to his pharmacy to fix the problem, staying until midnight to get it fixed.
Since then, Sam has been one of those users who always had software enhancement suggestions, fixes, and other improvements, and we have always been eager to listen. For example, a couple of years ago he approached us about who could build him a Web page. We immediately called him and said that this was a new service we’d offer. And he was happy to be the first customer. We worked together and came up with a site that he was extremely pleased with. Let me share this comment from Sam, which I think sums up how we work with our customers: “The software is about as easy to use as any out there, but the main reason why I stay with Speed Script is their people. I feel like I can call with any question or concern, and have it answered immediately. This company is the epitome of a good product and excellent customer service — a rare combination to find these days.”
CT: What have been some of the high watermarks over the years?
Davis: There have been many high watermarks, but I think the most significant is that we are celebrating our 30th anniversary and the company is still going strong. We owe our success to our loyal customers who have supported us over the years, and to our great staff. We really focus on putting the right people in the right places to help Speed Script succeed and grow. Every person on our staff has embraced the same customer values that Speed Script was founded on. Just as our customers have to adapt to grow, we have to as well. Our staff truly believes in what we are doing as a team, and we truly believe that we can help our customers deliver the highest level of patient care in the industry.
CT: There’s a lot of talk now about system integration. Can you tell us why it’s important for pharmacy management systems to be able to communicate with other systems and services being used in the pharmacy?
Davis: Nobody can do it all, and no software can operate in an isolated environment. We need to be able to “talk” to other programs. But it is not enough just to write an interface to a program or box, and system integration is not just about technology. It’s about forming true partnerships with the right companies — ones that share the same dedication and hold the same values about treating the customer right. I think we have been able to do that very successfully.
The true challenge in growing Speed Script was providing the ultimate in customer support while adding new customers and employees. We spend as much time focusing on support as we do in dealing with technology and regulatory changes. I can truly say that Speed Script would not be here today if we hadn’t provided our customers with first-class support. And as we continue to grow, support will always be a priority. We look forward to another 30 years of challenges, innovation, and leadership in pharmacy technology. CT