In previous Business Continuity articles, we’ve mentioned the importance of being able to securely access your pharmacy from an off-site location. Not only is this a crucial component of any business continuity plan, it’s invaluable for boosting day-to-day productivity. In the course of a regular work week, being at an off-site location could mean many things: working from home, participating in rounds as part of a long-term care facility’s healthcare team, or working from another store in your small chain.
PTS offers two solutions that allow owners and their employees to access a pharmacy remotely: Store-to-Store VPN and Remote Access. In this article, I’ll explain both solutions and share why one Independent pharmacy owner thinks everyone should use Remote Access.
Let’s begin by understanding what’s meant by a VPN.
A virtual private network (VPN) is a secure private network extended across public networks such as the Internet. By using encryption and other security measures, a VPN allows computer networks to create a secure tunnel to exchange data across shared public networks as if they were privately connected. McKesson's VPN is a secure connection between PTS and our pharmacies. This security powers both Store-to-Store VPN and Remote Access.
Convenient and secure operations management.
Ideal for owners of multiple pharmacies, Store-to-Store VPN provides the flexibility to operate your business from any location in your network. Authorized employees can access any computer at any location, from any location (or even at the same location). In short, to use Store-to-Store VPN, it’s necessary to be onsite at one of the locations.
Optimized staffing is one of the many operational benefits afforded by this solution. Let’s say you own two pharmacies, and one store tends to be busier than the other. When there’s a lull at Pharmacy A, an employee at that location can log into Pharmacy B to pick up the overflow. Productivity improves at Pharmacy B without increasing the number of onsite employees.
Run your business from anywhere.
Arguably the more versatile of the two solutions, Remote Access provides a secure connection into a pharmacy’s network from just about anywhere in the world. Once a laptop or tablet is configured with Remote Access, you can be in another room, another city or another country and still be able to access the pharmacy’s POS and\or dispensary systems.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, this practical solution allowed owners to balance employee health and safety with the importance of patient care. Provisioned with Remote Access, team members could focus on work that didn’t require them to be present in the pharmacy, helping sustain the pharmacy’s overall productivity.
Why one pharmacist believes every owner should use Remote Access.
Pandemic aside, there are day-to-day practicalities of Remote Access. Just ask Vijay Shukla, a pharmacist who owns two pharmacies in Ottawa: Barrhaven IDA Pharmacy and Cedarview Guardian Pharmacy. I recently had a chance to catch up with Vijay and knowing that Remote Access is one of his must-haves, I wanted to learn why he considers it such a vital tool.
How does Remote Access help you run your business?
“It allows me to know what’s happening in my stores at any point in time. Most importantly, I can provide phone support for my team. It lets me be available to them at any time and help them right away, especially for quick things. When it comes to software, being able to troubleshoot their problems means we don’t need to call PTS Customer Care every time. That helps everyone: us, PTS and other pharmacies; we only call in for support if there’s a problem we can’t solve on our own, so it frees up the phone lines for people who really need Customer Care’s help.
As an owner, I can be at home, working late at night and need to check something – maybe I need to run a report or check something on a patient’s record – I can do it immediately. Being a pharmacist, 80% of the time I’m connecting to the dispensary system, but it’s also useful to connect to the POS system. For example, I’ve been able to check and compare front shop product pricing at both locations and make corrections as needed. All without being in a store.”
Author Note: I can attest to Vijay being a one-person support centre! More than once, I’ve witnessed him field a call from a team member, then immediately log into the store to help solve a problem.
What would you tell other owners about purchasing Remote Access?
"It's a no brainer. I wouldn't think an extra second about it. You need to have it. I can't live without it!”
It’s clear that Remote Access and Store-to-Store VPN both have their own unique benefits. Depending on the pharmacy’s operational needs, it may be worthwhile to explore one or both services. Either way, this fact is true: geography doesn’t have to be a roadblock in providing patients with superb and timely care.
PTS provides several technology solutions to support your business continuity plans. Book a meeting to discuss options with one of our Sales Team members, or scroll down to browse more of our business continuity articles.