MOST PHARMACISTS KNOW their software vendors can write an interface. But there’s more to software than just having an interface installed. There is a whole realm of IT support available to those pharmacists who don’t have a dedicated person, or the expertise to manage routers, network security, and PCI compliance. It’s important to ask your vendor about services beyond software.
Kari Pastorek, R.Ph., who co-owns Grafton Drug, in Grafton, N.D, with Beth Wharam, Pharm.D., looks to Speed Script to provide IT support. Since installing the Speed Script pharmacy management system in 2008, following buying the pharmacy in 2006, Pastorek has called on Speed Script staff regularly for in-store and phone-based network support. Grafton Drug, serving a town with a population of around 5,000, is a retail pharmacy that caters to everyone in the area: walk-in patients, nursing homes, and those needing special packaging in group homes and home care. Because of its rural location, the staff will also do some mail order. Busy running the clinical and business side of the pharmacy, Pastorek needed expertise and support managing her computer network and the security side of the business.
“I’m not a computer person, I’m a pharmacist, and we don’t have a local IT person — Grafton is a small, rural area,” explains Pastorek. “I pretty much use Speed Script as my IT staff. I will call them for any issue, from the fax machine, to point of sale, to an interface with the robotic system.”
Pastorek has several examples of when she’s called Speed Script CEO Chuck Welch and asked for help.
With PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) requirements, Pastorek turned to Speed Script. She had a lot of questions about the compliance requirements, and didn’t understand the explanations from the third-party company she was using to verify the point-of-sale (POS) system. Frustrated, she called Chuck Welch, CEO of Speed Script. “Chuck had an employee call me and answer my questions,” recalls Pastorek. “I feel really comfortable with Speed Script monitoring all of it. We get busy, and I don’t have to think about it.” She says that while PCI compliance requires a quarterly audit of the system, Speed Script does a monthly audit, so she knows ahead of time if there is a vulnerability in the system. “I don’t want it to be easy for a hacker to get into my system. I want the data to be protected,” she says.
At Speed Script, this type of IT support is not out of the ordinary. With a new system install, Speed Script will replace the pharmacy’s router with a Speed Script router that is configured for the pharmacy and create a secure VPN (virtual private network) connection with the Speed Script network. This gives Speed Script support personnel the ability to connect with the pharmacy’s servers without opening the network to a potential threat, if left running. Speed Script sends a hardware technician on-site for the install, to make sure all the other networking hardware is performing optimally. Sometimes, the company advises replacement of the remaining hardware. Also, as a pharmacy grows, Speed Script will make sure the pharmacy has the proper switches and networking equipment.
“When you install a system, pharmacists should be looking for someone who is going to partner with them for the growth of the pharmacy,” says Welch. “While we are a smaller vendor, we can still give one-on-one support. Plus, the customers have access to anyone in the company to discuss thoughts and issues, and to talk about new services needed.”
At Grafton, when the pharmacy’s iPad was experiencing inconsistent wireless access, Pastorek called Speed Script. The pharmacy staff uses the iPad to help customers look at Medicare Part D drug plans, and the process was inefficient, with the wireless going down all the time. Speed Script sent someone to evaluate the situation. “Apparently, we had our router in a bad location, and that is why we weren’t able to connect to it,” says Pastorek. “Moving it to a new location has made a big difference. It also made it so we could add another workstation in the pharmacy that could run off of the wireless network.”
Another example is when Pastorek installed security cameras. She was concerned about any breaches to the network that could lead to hacking of her pharmacy, and about credit card data being compromised if the security system wasn’t tied to the pharmacy network properly. She asked the security company to talk to Speed Script first. “I always question anyone who deals with our network and ask them to talk to Speed Script,” says Pastorek. “We need someone who understands the whole system, not just one part of it. I feel like when I call Speed Script, I can depend on them to figure out any problem.” CT
Maggie Lockwood is VP and senior editor at ComputerTalk. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.