Computer-Rx has long been a leader in pharmacy technology. Late last year, the company announced that Lauren Warkentine had been appointed president. ComputerTalk writer Bruce Kneeland caught up with Warkentine to learn about her goals as she takes over leadership of the company.
ComputerTalk: Lauren, as the new president of Computer-Rx, what are your major goals?
Lauren Warkentine: Well, first I want your readers to know I have been with Computer-Rx since its founding and have worked in most departments of the company. That said, my highest priority is to ensure the culture of our company remains focused on our core principle — that being, “What can we do to help pharmacists take better care of patients and be financially viable?”
As we move forward we’ll continue to focus on our long-standing goal of making the user experience as simple as possible. One of our development mantras is, “Can it be done in three clicks or less?”
CT: Can you say anything about the new corporate alignment with Rx30?
Warkentine: Sure. The combination of our two companies is exciting. Both companies have grown rapidly over the past few years, so we have a great platform to build on. And we feel the corporate cultures are very similar, friendly, innovative, and customer focused.
Both companies will continue to sell, support, and enhance their specific product offerings. The new structure will provide economies of scale for back-office operations such as finance and human resources. Savings in those areas will allow us to develop new products and services. It’s too early to speculate on what those might be, but our management teams are starting to discuss these opportunities.
CT: Your new building in Oklahoma City is impressive. Is there something about that facility you’d like customers and prospects to know?
Warkentine: Yes, about a year and a half ago we moved into a new three-story building. Growth necessitates hiring new people, and our new offices have helped us attract some great new team members.
We are in “tornado alley” and knew that our customers needed assurance of our ability to service them. And we felt a need to have a building that would ensure our employees were safe.
Our new facility is built to withstand an F5 tornado. And the section of the facility that houses our servers and backup generator is able to withstand a direct hit. Our new building is built to ensure our customers have uninterrupted service no matter what type of weather we have in Oklahoma.
CT: You’ve helped hundreds of pharmacies recover from disasters. Any words of advice?
Warkentine: I know no one likes to think about it, but having a disaster plan is critical. Vandalism, fire, theft, or loss of power are possible even if you are not in a tornado, flood, or hurricane zone. And systems for protecting and retrieving your data are absolutely critical.
We have procedures in place to proactively look for customers who are in an area about to be hit by severe weather. And we are prepared to help; for example, we have hardware staged and ready to ship overnight to help them get back up and operating quickly. And, of course, we can help restore lost data from our backup systems.
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CT: You have your annual Idea Exchange coming up in March. Any comments on that event?
Warkentine: Except for Christmas this is my most enjoyable time of the year! The meeting is designed to be fun, informative, and practical.
Idea Exchange is open to any pharmacy, regardless of what pharmacy system they use. We have a variety of industry and business trends classes. It is fun to see people at our event comparing notes and sharing success stories.
Another unique feature is having owners send key personnel to be trained on specific aspects of our systems. They can take classes from our product managers and interact with other users. Front-end managers learn how to use our POS system, and pharmacy technicians learn faster and better ways to perform their duties. We work hard to provide ways for people to gather together in small informal groups. This is a wonderful event, and we invite your readers to look over the event brochure and think about coming.
ComputerTalk: You are in a competitive business. What do you see as your primary competitive advantage?
Warkentine: I guess I’d like to focus on three things:
We believe our corporate culture is our most important competitive advantage. Culture includes the respect we have for community pharmacy. At Computer-Rx we know that people not only need to get the right medication but they also need the care and attention a good pharmacy can provide.
Next, innovation. Our product managers, programmers, sales people and customer service representatives share ideas across department lines to answer the question: “How can we make things faster, simpler, and better”?
We also have processes in place to learn from our customers. No doubt the most innovative improvements we make come from listening to real-world users. One benefit we derive from our annual Idea Exchange event is having our employees interact with our guests. The meeting is an important part of how we insure our employees know and understand the problems pharmacy owners face.
Finally, we are really excited by the partnership we have entered into with Rx30. The combined strength of our two companies will make it possible for us to invest in products, programs and services that neither of us could afford to do on our own.
ComputerTalk: Can you name a few areas of emerging opportunity you think will open new doors for pharmacy?
Warkentine: It is always dangerous to predict the future. But from where I sit now, I see great opportunities for pharmacies around clinical services. I believe with the transition over the years towards pay-for-performance, pharmacies have a unique opportunity to position themselves as an important hub in the healthcare system. They are finally getting recognized for their value and I think this will only continue. Our job is to facilitate this the best we can by providing the technology they need and highlight their value in the healthcare system.
Continuing with clinical, customized medication, I believe will be a growing trend. With genomics , this emerging new capability could provide pharmacies with opportunities to deliver much more personal care.
Finally, we are seeing exciting things happen with technology in the area of nutritional supplements. The ability to help patients know what types of vitamins or nutrient are best for them based on their specific medication regimen promises to help patient get better care while at the same time building sales of non-prescription medications.
We know times are tough right now as reimbursement issues are causing many pharmacies to struggle to keep their doors open. But at Computer-Rx we believe we can create products and services that will help innovative pharmacy owners take advantage of new opportunities to serve patients. CT