Erich and Tina Cushey Curtis Pharmacy Pennsylvania
Erich and Tina Cushey of Curtis Pharmacy

A robust IVR (interactive voice response) system is a given in busy pharmacies today, handling inbound call volume and supporting clinical and loyalty programs through outbound messaging. Erich Cushey, co-owner with his wife Tina of Curtis Pharmacy, a three-store community pharmacy in southwestern Pennsylvania, says that what gives more power to his IVR system is the integration of his phone system with his PioneerRx pharmacy system, all provided through Vow.

The Cusheys are fourth-generation owners of the original pharmacy in Washington County. They have opened from scratch a second store in Washington, Pa., and just this spring purchased a third store, Hunters Pharmacy, in Connellsville, Pa., about an hour away. The stores range in size from 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, with a front end, compounding, and med sync, which has seen an increase in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Med sync made it easier to handle the workflow in the pharmacy, and reduced the number of trips to the pharmacy for patients.

“Our sync program was doing well, but now it has gotten even better,” Erich Cushey says.

Cushey says he uses the IVR for the traditional outbound will-call pickup reminders, customer campaigns around Medicare signups, and flu shot reminders. Where Cushey sees the biggest efficiencies is through the connectivity among his stores, thanks to the unified phone system and a virtual private network (VPN) that Vow built. The VPN, says Cushey, has meant he can take advantage of more features in his pharmacy system. The pharmacy staff can access the system at each store, check on a prescription’s status, and send prescriptions to another location. A new shared-inventory feature from PioneerRx gives all workstations access to the three stores’ inventory. When a patient calls the pharmacy, the Vow system’s interface with the pharmacy system automatically pulls up the patient profile based on the phone number. Call Erich and Tina Cushey routing is seamless as well: Staff can transfer calls rather than ask the patient to hang up and make the call.

This connectivity was a key reason Cushey decided to install RxSafe automation this spring. When he was looking to invest in the automation, Cushey knew he wanted all the stores to have the ability to send scripts to the RapidPak in a central-fill model. He worked with Vow on the integration with the pharmacy system and RapidPak. The automation handles over 250 patients a month now, and Cushey predicts that will increase when the Hunters store comes on later this year, as it has long-term care beds. And the Cusheys hope to add new retail customers to the packaging program.

Curtis Pharmacy Med Sync and Packaging

“As it turned out, since we were already a VPN, we were already connected,” he says. “It’s pretty slick, actually, that we can have a robot in one store, feeding it from two others remotely, and pulling from the common inventory.”

With the reduced phone bill, a better IVR, and a phone system that integrates seamlessly with PioneerRx, Cushey says his experience with Vow has been a successful one. When a store has been damaged, either because of a robbery or flooding, Vow has worked quickly to transfer call traffic and provide access to backup files so the operating stores could pick up the prescriptions from the store that was offline. “The flexibility that Vow gives us is incredible,” he says. “For a smaller operation like ours, they’re really our back-office IT.” CT

Maggie Lockwood is VP and staff writer at ComputerTalk. She can be reached at maggie@computertalk.com.