Keeping Up With Change

Pharmacy has experienced dramatic changes since the ‘60s, with the one constant being the importance of evolving with those changes.

By Tom Hagan, R.Ph.

When I graduated from pharmacy school in 1965, there were no computers in the retail pharmacy world and “long term care pharmacy” didn’t exist. I went to work for my preceptor where I started as a delivery kid at the age of 16. We had a soda fountain corner drug store that I subsequently bought in 1981 and sold out in 1998.

During that 33-year period, the whole world of pharmacy changed. Discount stores popped up, third parties began in 1967, local County Welfare became Medicaid, the long term care market blossomed, someone invented Assisted Living, and mental health state institutions closed and the residents were mainstreamed into communities. Most of us community pharmacy operators had to search for something to augment our shrinking sales.

The solution was to market to the institutional providers in our area. When we obtained the business, a few computer companies were making their way to facilities as well by developing software to accommodate the needs of these facilities and patients. In 1985, I recognized that we needed software specific to long term care. We were proactive about seeking out pharmacy software that was made for our industry and would continue to grow as our needs changed. We didn’t find that software until discovering FrameworkLTC and consequently, the pharmacy I sold in 1998 still uses it today.

Over the years of operating the pharmacy with LTC-oriented software I discovered it was about more than just utilization of the technology – training and advice was also important. I thought I knew all there was to know about the business and the software, but when I would periodically have a trainer come to my location and update us on the latest subtleties of the software, we would be amazed at the new features. Many of the updated processes within FrameworkLTC are inspired by feedback from actual users who need these features to continue to thrive.

One offering not in place until I had retired from pharmacy is that SoftWriters now offers consultants who visit pharmacies to assess operations and recommend best practices. I know we would have benefited from the suggestions they provide, and enjoy hearing from current customers who have experienced great results from meeting with our experienced consultants.

My bottom line is that you can’t have enough training from your experts. The world of pharmacy and facility management is ever changing—you must keep abreast of change.

Tom Hagan, R.Ph. is a sales consultant at SoftWriters, a Pittsburgh-based company that offers pharmacy management software solutions to pharmacies serving the long term care community. Tom has been in pharmacy for 51 years – before joining SoftWriters he worked at, owned, and then sold an independent pharmacy in his community. Tom reminisces about the characteristics that make us love our community pharmacy – stopping on his way home to deliver medications and groceries to a housebound family, hiring the local kids, and knowing his customers by name.