Kevin Welch, in addition to his role as President, Integra LTC Solutions, is now also the CTO for parent company J M Smith Corporation. In the fall, the J M Smith Corporation announced the formation of the Center of Excellence for Long-Term Care. I caught up with Kevin to hear what this meant for the PrimeCare LTC system. Here he explains how, as CTO, he will head the move to keep the technological edge J M Smith is known for, and to streamline the process to bring new technology to the market and meet the needs of customers.

ComputerTalk: This seems like a new path for QS/1 by breaking PrimeCare away from QS/1 and bringing it together with Integra LTC’s assets. Can you tell us a little about how this came about?

Kevin Welch: Historically QS/1 has been providing pharmacy management systems and related products to multiple markets. When Integra became part of the J M Smith family of companies, we brought an increased depth of offerings to the long-term care market. As we all listened to our customers, we heard their desire for greater focus on their specific needs, and it made sense to create a center of excellence for long-term care. The install base of PrimeCare and the install base of Integra Solutions gives us a footprint of about two-thirds of the long-term care market. Integra will focus solely on the needs of that market. We think focus is the first step to success. This way we can respond in a timely manner to customer needs. And that’s what we’re going to try and do.

Integra has a great reputation for service and support in the industry. And we aim to continue that reputation as we support PrimeCare building on the excellent work that QS/1 has done. We’re in the process of retooling our organization to welcome these new PrimeCare customers to Integra and showing them that we can provide them with the same level of service that we’ve done with our other products. We’ll put more resources into all our products and services. And with that we can continue innovating and coming out with new solutions to meet the needs of our changing marketplace.

CT: How will you market and sell PrimeCare?

Welch: In the future, PrimeCare will be sold and marketed under the Integra banner. We are in the process of developing our processes and procedures with input from the experts at both QS/1 and Integra, as well as from customers. PrimeCare users can attend the Integra Customer Conference this June in Denver. This will increase the size of the conference considerably, plus customers will be able to learn about our entire collection of products in one place — all closed-door pharmacy focused. Integra products will also have tracks at the QS/1 Customer Conference in May for customers that wish to attend that conference. 

CT: Do you see a common theme coming up in your discussions with customers?

Welch: Yes. The main theme we heard was in regard to focus. By creating a Center of Excellence, we can address the focus issue front and center because we’ll have a large team dedicated to the unique needs of long term care instead of being split between multiple markets. The benefit of this focus is that our responsiveness increases, which also benefits our customers.  

CT: What are you excited to address right off the bat?

Welch: Integra has historically provided products such as DocuTrack and DeliveryTrack that complement the core pharmacy system.  As a result these products interface with many different pharmacy systems. With the addition of our own pharmacy system, PrimeCare, we will be able to complete the suite and provide a one-stop-shop for all our customers. Now that being said, we are very committed to open platforms. One of the moves that we see in the market today are tightly integrated suites that do not interface with disparate external systems.  This creates problems for many of our customers who need enterprise-class systems that simultaneously support multiple different systems. Furthermore, in many instances the solutions provided are not as robust as the stand-alone solutions that we provide. In other words, if they’ve got many pharmacies, we can handle them. And if they’ve use different pharmacy management systems,  accounting systems and CRM systems, our products being open can simultaneously work with all of those. I think that’s going to prove to be a big competitive advantage, in addition to us being the one-stop-shop for those customers who choose that route.

CT: Focus will mean a new level of responsiveness to products that are closed-door specific?

Welch: We’ve announced this transition, but there are a lot of moving parts and so we have set up an employee-led process to transition PrimeCare from QS/1 to Integra. All the current staff (including product managers, developers and support people) will remain but report into Integra. From a product responsibility point of view, Integra will be taking the lead. We’ll be communicating with our customers what they need to do to adapt to transition. Plus we are already going out and visiting customers in large numbers, talking to them about this transition, and also soliciting their feedback of where they would like the product to go. For me personally I have been spending at least a week a month on the road, visiting customers and our staff members have been doing the same. So we have a lot of input and we’re in the process right now of putting that into detailed product plans both for PrimeCare and our suite

CT: And having an open system lets you provide the functionality the pharmacists are asking for?

Welch: We are really committed to open systems. I hear the theme that customers want to be able to make the choices that are best for them and their business and not have to basically take it or leave it from a particular vendor; either take the whole thing or leave the whole thing. They need a middle ground and that’s what Integra is going to offer. If they want to integrate our products say DocuTrack, for example, or DeliveryTrack or even Logix’s, they can and we would support them, including giving them the same access full integration would allow. I have yet to meet a customer that was disappointed by this.

CT: It’s important because each pharmacy has it’s own workflow and need things to work a certain way and they like that flexibility.

Welch: Right. And they have their own business model. I think that’s one of the secret ingredients for Integra’s success in the marketplace. For example with DocuTrack, you’d be hard pressed to find a large pharmacy, closed-door or retail, that doesn’t use DocuTrack. And our very first pharmacy that used DocuTrack continues to use it today even though they don’t use our pharmacy management system (at least at present). And why do they do that? Because that one application can handle a variety of systems that customers have in their increasingly complex operation. If they had something that was just built-in, and not open, they could never be where they are today. QS/1 has over 350 different interfaces for PrimeCare and Integra has well over 50 different interfaces for DocuTrack. And so we really think it’s important to provide both integration and the ability to interface. Internally we ourselves use the same published interfaces that we make available to our vendor partners.  This way the customer wins by having the most number of choices and they can choose what’s right for them. CT