In this interview with ComputerTalk Publisher Bill Lockwood, Jeremy Manchester, president of Liberty Software, tells us how his company is helping independent pharmacies improve day-to-day operations.
ComputerTalk: Let’s begin with a little background on Liberty. When did you launch your first pharmacy management system, and what made you target the pharmacy market? And any high-water marks over the years you would like to tell us about?
Jeremy Manchester: I grew up in this business. My father and my grandfather both worked for several of the earliest pharmacy software companies back when most pharmacies were still using typewriters. In fact, my grandfather taught me how to program.
Liberty has been in business for a long time. I started at Liberty 18 years ago, when my father first took over the company as president. At the time there were maybe 70 pharmacies using an early iteration of our pharmacy software.
Since then, we’ve completely rewritten our platform from the ground up, and now thousands of pharmacies are using our platform in all 50 states.
I think a lot of people think Liberty is an overnight success story. But the reality is that our success has come from years of delivering easy-to-use software, consistently releasing relevant features, and taking care of our pharmacies.
CT: Helping independent pharmacists manage their vaccine programs is something you are proud of. Fill us in on what you have done here that makes Liberty stand out.
Manchester: Yes, even before COVID-19 our platform had many unique vaccine features. First of all, billing vaccines has traditionally been difficult because different PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers] have nuances that require a lot of trial and error to properly collect the fee. The Liberty platform simplifies billing and takes out a lot of the user errors that are common with vaccine billing. Second, most pharmacy management systems treat a vaccine like any other prescription. It’s not.
The Liberty platform doesn’t treat a vaccine like another prescription. There is an immunization workflow that is designed the way pharmacies actually work with immunizations. For example, you can record the immunization site — left arm, right arm — when you are administering, not when you are entering or billing it. This is just common-sense functionality that allows the software to follow what is happening inside a pharmacy instead of trying to keep up with vaccines in a typical prescription workflow.
The reality is that our success has come from years of delivering easy-to-use software, consistently releasing relevant features, and taking care of our pharmacies.
What COVID changed for most pharmacies is the sheer volume of vaccinations. So Liberty responded quickly to help our pharmacies accommodate this new volume. Over the last two years we rolled out features that automate entering required vaccine information, improve our automatic reporting to state immunization registries, and manage immunization questionnaires and paperwork.
Our platform also generates web links for pharmacies to send to patients that allow the patient to schedule immunization appointments with the pharmacy. The immunization functionality within Liberty’s platform is really amazing and is helping stores successfully manage huge immunization programs.
CT: Looking ahead, what will be the focus of your software development team?
Manchester: One of the biggest shifts in the independent market has been the rise of the multilocation independent pharmacy. More independent pharmacy owners own multiple stores now than ever before. For that reason our big focus for 2023 is our multistore management platform, RXQOne. RXQOne has been out for several years and is a cutting-edge tech stack. Rather than relying on a chain host server, it is a cloud-based technology that is extremely scalable and unique.
It supports the basics and back-office functionality that multistores expect. But I’m not sure any multistore system available to community multistores properly competes with the technology that big box chains are using. So we have some really interesting projects in the works that will really make a difference for folks trying to manage multiple pharmacies.
CT: What specific manual steps do you see as candidates for automation?
Manchester: It’s amazing, when you look at the last 10 years, the amount of automation that we have brought into pharmacies. Unfortunately much of it has been out of necessity, as more and more has been demanded of pharmacies. As pharmacy has become more complicated I think we’ve responded quickly to help stores not just survive but thrive.
But we continue to invest heavily in automation within our platform and have several projects planned that will either reduce or eliminate manual steps. In particular, we see additional opportunities to improve pharmacy’s inventory, reduce the friction and manual steps in communication between the pharmacy and the patient, and expand on our clinical insights within the pharmacy workflow.
The last two years we rolled out features that automate entering required vaccine information, improve our automatic reporting to state immunization registries, and manage immunization questionnaires and paperwork.
CT: You employ quite a few pharmacists, and this you feel gives Liberty a competitive edge. How does this play out in software development and customer support?
Manchester: Yes, Liberty has almost 20 pharmacists working across the organization in different roles. A pharmacist is in charge of the software development team, we have several pharmacists on our implementation team, a pharmacist is in charge of our training department, there is always a pharmacist acting as a supervisor on our help desk, and every pharmacy account manager reports to a pharmacist.
In my whole career I’ve heard people tell me, if only a pharmacist designed this software, they would get it. Liberty took that idea and put it on steroids. It has made us a pharmacist-oriented company, and ultimately is what has allowed us to scale so well. It’s why we get such stellar customer service reviews and why pharmacists love our platform so much.
CT: Liberty is a success story, considering how competitive the market is. Any closing comments on this note?
Manchester: You will see the phrase “pharmacy software for pharmacy success” in a lot of Liberty’s material. I think it is important for people to realize that is not our marketing tagline — that’s our mission. We are laser-focused on building software that helps pharmacies’ bottom line, helps them deliver better care to their patients, and helps pharmacies work more efficiently. So Liberty’s success story is the success of the pharmacies using our platform. CT