Can’t believe it!
Last Saturday morning I spent 2 hours browsing different pharmacy websites. I was amazed how many of them were not secure or compliant. I would say a good 60% of pharmacy websites are in violation of HIPAA. In addition, 75% of the websites I visited were not secure with SSL. As a website design company that specializes in pharmacy and healthcare websites I cannot stress enough the importance of security and compliance with websites.
In this article I will discuss the reasons why your pharmacy website must be compliant and secure. Many owners don’t put much thought into the security of their website. Websites are often overlooked and never touched again after completion. However, with more and more security incidents involving pharmacies it is essential you lock down your pharmacy website.
What is HIPAA and ADA?
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was passed by Congress in 1996. The act mandates standards for healthcare companies including pharmacies to abide by. HIPAA requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information.
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) of 1990 prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This includes pharmacies and their website presence.
Pharmacy Website HIPAA Compliance
What makes a website HIPAA compliant and why compliance is required. The answer to why is simple, patients are entering PHI (personal health information) on your website. It only makes sense to have this information secure is all forms. If a patient types in their RX Number that is considered PHI info and needs to be protected. From when the user first types their information to the time it’s submitted into the pharmacy system, e-mail or fax — this data should be 100% secure and protected.
Not only do patients send PHI information through refills request but also through contact forms. All contact forms should be 100% HIPAA compliant. Patients often send RX numbers and other PII (personal identifiable information) through contact forms. Don’t think just because your website is managed or hosted through a marketing/IVR company that it is secure and complaint.
How to make your website compliant with HIPAA?
First make sure your website is secure with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) from your hosting company. SSL is a cryptographic protocol and will secure the connection from your patient to your website. You may have to purchase this extra but it needs to be part of your website. SSL also helps with SEO as an added benefit.
Second, make sure all of your forms (contact, refill, transfer etc) are all HIPAA compliant. There are a few form providers like Jotform that provide HIPAA protection. Jotform is the form company we use for all of our healthcare websites we create.
Pharmacy Website ADA Compliance
ADA compliance has recently became a large issue for independent pharmacies thanks to the Winn-Dixie lawsuit. The lawsuit which awarded the plaintiffs lawyers $100,000 stated Winn-Dixies’ website was not compliant for the blind.
To be ADA compliant your pharmacy website should be able to be read back to the user clearly. All videos on your website should have text transcripts. All images should have their “alt” tag field filled in. The website should be organized clearly and delineated from one another and are easily navigated throughout the entire site.
By having HIPAA and ADA compliance on your pharmacy website you can rest assured that you are providing a safe and compliant virtual extension of your pharmacy. Now more than ever, cyber security is becoming more and more prevalent. With security breaches happening every day your pharmacy website must be secure and provide a safe place to enter PHI info.
ConfigRX specializes in pharmacy and healthcare websites. We manage our clients websites after design completion to ensure a safe environment of the pharmacies patients. If you are interested in our pharmacy web design service check out our website design page.
The pharmacy industry is rapidly changing and now more than ever, pharmacists are starting their own pharmacies. They are doing so for good reason. The industry isn’t what is used to be. Reimbursement rates are nowhere near what they were 5 years ago. DIR fees are cutting into profits. The large chains are moving more towards services with other healthcare options in the pharmacy, such as on-site wellness clinics.
The good news, it’s now easier than ever to open your own pharmacy. The chains are starting to consolidate, compounding is now more common than ever and patients are finally seeing the value in knowing their pharmacist.
In this article we will discuss 3 primary reasons starting a pharmacy in 2020 could be the right move for you.
Pharmacist hourly wages are declining rapidly.
The job market for pharmacies is quickly becoming saturated. Hours are being cut and the demand for pharmacies are going down. Recently in 2019 Walgreens slashed $500 million in pharmacist bonuses. In addition, the salary of a full or part time pharmacist is slowly declining year over year.
As employers add more and more services to the pharmacist role the oversupply gives employers the opportunity to cut wages. There’s always the next guy/gal in line just waiting for a decent paying job.
This is the reason most of our clients give us as to why they want to start their own pharmacy. With an oversupply of pharmacists in the country it only makes sense that pharmacists take things into their own hands.
Be your own boss
Becoming your own boss comes with benefits everyone is aware of. No longer are you at the mercy of an employer who schedule can care less about your personal life.
How do you know you’re ready to be your own boss and start a pharmacy? Easy, you keep thinking and dreaming about it. You’ve mentioned it to friends and done a bit of research, even reading this article! You want to break free and work for yourself but you convinced yourself it’s risky and confusing.
Most new pharmacy owners have no clue where to start. That is where we come in to help you along your journey. We have opened over 50+ pharmacies across the country. If you keep thinking about it, then it might be time to start your journey.
Make a difference in your community
Step away from the large chain stores and create a footprint in your community with your pharmacy. Independent pharmacies have much more flexibility than a CVS or Walgreens. An independent pharmacy can make a real difference in the lives of patients.
Only at a local community pharmacy can you get to know your patients by name. Understanding patients health needs to is a valuable commodity in 2020. Patients feel their just a number at the big pharmacy chains and honestly, they are.
If you really care about patient outcomes and helping patients live healthier lives, then start your pharmacy. Patients will see you clearly care about their health and would refer your pharmacy to their friends and family.
Take advantage of the current pharmacy industry and start a pharmacy. It’s not as hard as you may think and most pharmacies are up in running in less than a year.
Are you thinking of starting a pharmacy? Knowing the requirements to open a pharmacy helps. In this post we discuss the requirements to start a pharmacy and what to expect along the way.
The independent pharmacy world offers a lot of opportunities for pharmacy owners. You can be your own boss. No more 60 hour work weeks for a large pharmacy chain. Actually serve customers and help them take control of their health.
This all sounds great but the truth is..it’s a lot of work to start a pharmacy. No matter what you read, it’s a long journey from start to finish. You will encounter issues along the way. For example: City permits are always a pain. Finding a GC (general contractor) who actually cares about your project. Dealing with your state board of pharmacy, oh and expect a lot of delays.
I personally have been involved in opening over 50 pharmacies across the country. I am writing this article based off of my personal experiences. Remember every state is different and some are easier than others to open a pharmacy.
In this article we will discuss
What to expect and what it takes to start a pharmacy
Starting and operating a pharmacy isn’t as easy as most think. There are many items to consider. No longer are you just verifying scripts, but you are also verifying payroll, marketing, inventory and more. Below are some key traits to have if you are thinking about opening a pharmacy.
Patience: If you don’t have patience, don’t expect to be a pharmacy owner. Everything in the independent pharmacy world requires you to wait. The independent pharmacy world is slow and I like to think it’s about 10 years behind any other industry. From insurance contracts to payment processors to government agencies.. It’s slow. Later in this article I will review the time frame to expect to open a pharmacy and trust me it’s longer than you think or read.
Resilience: As you slowly start to open your pharmacy you will think everyone is against you. From the landlord to the bank. Truth is.. they probably are. Community pharmacies aren’t always successful and they take a lot of resilience and dedication to be successful. I’ve had some clients take things personal and you can’t do that in the business world. If the opportunity between you and the bank or another entity doesn’t work out, move on. It’s not worth the time and effort.
Adaptable: The reason I include this trait as a pharmacy owner is simple, you have to be open to change. Most pharmacies start off as simply a retail pharmacy. Retail pharmacy sometimes isn’t enough. A majority pharmacies end up adding compounding, packaging or even specialty to their pharmacy services. These additional services help increase the pharmacy revenue and keep the ship sailing the first few years.
Developing A Pharmacy Business Plan
Any savvy business owner will create a business plan for their idea. A startup pharmacy needs a solid business plan that clearly defines the business. You will need to present your business plan to investors, banks and others. Your pharmacy business plan should clearly layout your goals for the pharmacy. For example: Most pharmacies business plans include a mission statement about caring for patients by offering free delivery, one on one counseling and more. Pretty much offer something they can’t get at a large chain pharmacy. Separate yourself and give customers a reason to choose you over a chain.
In addition to the overall goals of the pharmacy there are additional items to include in the plan. Some other items to include in your pharmacy business plan:
Services offered: Is your pharmacy more of a retail community pharmacy that focuses on it’s patients? Perhaps you offer in-home or delivery services with home medical items? There are many different services a pharmacy can offer. We suggest finding out what could the community benefit most from by looking at the competition and demographic in the area.
Financing: In this section you will need to state if you are working with a bank, self financing, etc.. You also will need to layout your total budget and banks usually want these items as line items. Be sure to include your building renovations, contractors, cabinets, drug inventory, technology, marketing etc.. These can easily go over $500k+
Marketing: A good marketing plan is a must for any pharmacy. How you will grow your pharmacy is of interest to investors and banks. What is your plan to acquire new patients and keep them? You can include items like direct mail, signage, grand openings, meeting prescribers face to face and more. Marketing is key to growing your pharmacy and you must have a sound marketing plan for your pharmacy to survive.
Location is essential
Location analysis: Here you will specify why you chose your target location and the patients you will serve in the area. This often determines the success of failure of a pharmacy. Location is key, try to be as visible as possible with little to no independents around.
These are just some of the items required in a pharmacy business plan. There are other items to include and you should be as detailed as possible. If you need help creating a pharmacy business plan check out a checklist by NCPA here.
How Long Does It Take To Open A Pharmacy?
Most people start out thinking it will take a few months to open a pharmacy. Reality is it takes 8+ months or even years to open a pharmacy. Be ready to be delayed by landlords, city permits, insurances, state boards, bank loans and more.
A good piece of advice is do not open until you have ALL of your important contracts. The last thing you want is a new customer to come into the pharmacy just to find out you can’t accept his/her insurance. Odds are that customer isn’t coming back.
You can often research to see which insurance is popular in your area. Do everything you can to have this contract before you open.
How much money is needed to open a pharmacy?
A pharmacy startup usually takes around $450k on average. Most of this goes to your building and re-construction costs or rent. Another large chunk will be allocated to your drug inventory. There are some other items including: Technology (pharmacy system, automation, computers, printers, network, phones), Marketing (logo, websites, mailers etc..) Consulting fees, Accounting fees, Cabinetry, Licensing, Legal fees and others.
Using a pharmacy consultant for your startup
Pharmacy consultants are great resources. Consultants have experience opening their own pharmacies or helping others. A pharmacy consultant helps you make accurate business decisions. They should be able to tell their clients to pursue or walk away from opportunities.
Pharmacy consultants offer a variety of services. Including location analysis, inventory management, loan consulting, business plans, market analysis, lease negotiations and more. Consultants can often save their clients thousands through their partners/vendors. Consultants receive better deals from vendors and this deal gets passed along to their clients.
As stated in the first paragraph, opening a pharmacy is hard work. You will have ups and downs before and after you open your pharmacy. It often takes 1-2 years for an independent pharmacy to break even. If you are determined enough and willing to put in the hours your pharmacy can be a success. Keep in mind there are tons of resources at your disposal including books, consultants, blogs, workshops and more.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.
Every pharmacy owner wants to gain a marketing edge against their competition. This is especially true if your pharmacy is in a competitive market. One way to stand out is with a custom prescriber prescription intake form for doctors. Not many pharmacy marketing plans include these intake forms, but yours should.
Unlike a typical intake form a patient fills out at the pharmacy. A custom prescriber intake form is a custom form for a prescriber by the pharmacy. These forms often have common medication listed on them. A prescriber can simply check the box for the medication that is needed, sign and fax back the form. These forms create an easy way for the prescriber to send a patients medication to the pharmacy.
Compounding and e-scribing
Another great reason to add intake forms to your pharmacy marketing plan – Compounding medication. Compounding isn’t as straight forward as e-scribing is. Compounds require unique strengths, ingredients and quantities. A custom prescriber intake form is perfect for this. The pharmacy can give the prescriber different custom compounding options on the intake form. The doctor can then check and fill in the blanks on strength, quantities, ingredients, refills, etc..
Currently most pharmacy owners are creating these intake forms on word processors and are very simple and bland. ConfigRX can create custom intake forms that look professional and allows your pharmacy to stand out. Each form is custom for the prescriber with their information. The form is designed for the doctor to confidently check, sign and fax. If you would be interested in a custom prescriber intake form to add to your pharmacy marketing plan, contact us.
Online custom intake prescriber forms
Recently, we have heard from prescribers they would like the ability to request custom compound prescription electronically. This wasn’t possible until recently. ConfigRX has created a secure HIPAA complaint online portal where prescribers can log into and request refills. These refills are then e-mailed or printed at the pharmacy for filling. This is a great tool for any pharmacy to market to prescribers in their area.
Pharmacy Website Design and Pharmacy Website Template
Pharmacy Cyber Security – Can Pharmacies be hacked?
Pharmacy Marketing Plan to increase prescription sales
Innovative Independent Pharmacy Business Ideas Designed to Elevate Your Pharmacy
What is a Pharmacy Consultant?
A pharmacy consultant in a nutshell helps you make accurate pharmacy business decisions. Pharmacist consultant services are designed to help pharmacy owners with various pharmacy related projects. Here are a few areas Pharmacy consultants can help:
- Buying a pharmacy
- Starting a pharmacy
- Selling a pharmacy
- Retail pharmacy
- Compounding pharmacy
- Pharmacy technology and security
- 340b consulting
- Specialty pharmacy
- Pharmacy marketing
- Long term care pharmacy
The consultant is there for you to bounce ideas and questions off of. The consultant should have years of experience running a pharmacy and will be able to accurately respond.
Why should you work with a pharmacy consultant?
If you are a new pharmacy business owner you should consider working with a pharmacy consulting service. For example: You are thinking about starting a pharmacy. A pharmacist consultant can provide you with location analysis. A location analysis is in in-depth look at a target market including competition, demographics, prescriber locations and more.
Looking to buy a pharmacy? A pharmacy consulting service can find pharmacies for sale. A pharmacy consultant usually has contacts in the industry. Once a consultant narrows down a pharmacy for sale they can analyze the data to determine if the pharmacy is worth buying.
A current pharmacy owner? A lot of current pharmacy owners seek advice from pharmacist consultants to expand their operations. A pharmacy consultant can seek financing for your ideas. Consultants often work directly with banks like Live Oak, First Financial and more to get excellent bank loans.
Save time and money using pharmacy consultants
Most pharmacy consultant services are designed to save their clients money. For example: Here at ConfigRX our goal is to reduce costs on all technology related services for the pharmacy. We have seen pharmacies overpaying for telecom, IVR services, pharmacy systems, websites and hardware. We help our clients save money every month on technology services. As a pharmacy consultant not only do we save our clients money but we also help them create more efficient workflows for their pharmacy. Having the correct technology in place at the right price is key to a successful pharmacy.
Other pharmacy consulting services such as Independent Rx Consulting have different services, however they are built to save the pharmacy owner time and money. There are many consulting services available for certain services including:
- Pharmacy License assistance
- Pharmacy Marketing ideas and plans
- Wholesale negotiation
- 3rd party vendors
- Pharmacy Financing
- Pharmacy Accounting
- Lease negotiations
- Pharmacy technology (PMS, e-scribe, EMAR, IVR etc.)
- Pharmacy services (MTM, inventory, prescription delivery, sync etc.)
- Pharmacy packaging
If you need help deciding on which pharmacist consultant you should work with then contact us or call 937-907-0078. We are here to point you in the right direction for your independent pharmacy.
Work with a trustworthy pharmacist consultant
While there are a number of pharmacy consulting services – make sure you have the right consultant. A lot of the pharmacy consultants charge a high fee but some clients don’t get much in return. When you are searching for a consultant be sure to ask the right questions such as:
- What other pharmacies in my situation have you helped?
- Tell me your consulting fee, do you charge per project or per hour?
- What all is included in your package ?
- Do you only work with proprietary systems?
- Do you offer any hands-on consulting or are you strictly advising?
- If your consultant works for a whole seller they often want you to use their warehouse and their PMS – ask if this is required before you sign up.
Pharmacy Consultants can provide a custom approach
Pharmacy consultants understand that every pharmacy is different. There really isn’t a set template to use. Every pharmacy comes with it’s own unique challenges and opportunities. A pharmacist consultant should be able to guide you to make the correct decisions. Different avenues to approach your obstacles. Consultants are paid to deliver customized solutions tailored to your pharmacy.
The final decision
If you are thinking about using a pharmacy consultant for your pharmacy remember this. A true pharmacy consultant has been there, done that. The consultant should have recommendations on how to pursue or stay away from the opportunity. A real consultant will have hands-on experience running their own pharmacies. Industry contacts to leverage. Discounts on certain services and more.
Feel free to reach out to us at (937) 907-0078 if you have any questions or comments.
Pharmacy Website Design and Pharmacy Website Template
Pharmacy Cyber Security – Can Pharmacies be hacked?
What is Pharmacy Technology Consulting?
Innovative Independent Pharmacy Business Ideas Designed to Elevate Your Pharmacy
As a pharmacy consultant I am able to talk with many pharmacy owners. One topic that always comes up is how to increase their pharmacies digital footprint online. This starts with a trustworthy pharmacy website design and should be followed up with a custom pharmacy mobile app. We tell our clients to avoid pharmacy website template and we explain why in this blog post.
In this article we will look at how successful pharmacies use their pharmacy website design to reach new patients and keep existing patients. We will also explore the difference between a pharmacy website and a custom pharmacy website. As well as why your pharmacies website should focus on your pharmacy services and how patients and prescribers view your pharmacy website.
How a patient views your pharmacy website
A patient is going to view your pharmacy website a few different ways. Often the patient is trying to find out more about your pharmacy they will check out the website. Maybe they drive by your pharmacy everyday on their way to work and saw your flu shot sign. They will look you up on Google and verify if your pharmacy is worth their business. Is the website modern? Can I trust them with my prescriptions, credit card information and personal health information?
A website is often the first impression a patient will have with the pharmacy. It takes less than a second for a patient to make the decision to stay or leave your website. That is why having a trustworthy, custom and updated website is so important. Long gone are the days of template and text based websites. Your pharmacy website needs to stand out from the others, and honestly it’s not that hard. Most pharmacy websites are of poor design, unsafe or templated.
If your pharmacy does have an older pharmacy website then consider updating now. If the pharmacy is in a competitive market, your website should be one of your top priorities. Today websites are all about content, pictures, videos and SEO (search engine optimization). Your website should reflect all of these. Everyone is online now and searching for the best deal. Pharmacies are not an exception. Everyday more and more online pharmacies are being created shrinking the market for brick and mortar pharmacies who don’t fully take advantage of online marketing and SEO.
Pharmacy SEO and content is king
Does your pharmacy offer services such as compounding or free delivery? If so do you show up in a Google search when someone types in “Fresno free prescription delivery”? SEO and keyword optimization is something 90% of pharmacy websites do not have. Why? Because it’s difficult and usually requres an SEO expert. There is a lot of competition for certain keywords such as “compounding” or “pharmacy”. If your pharmacy website was designed 5+ years ago you aren’t going to be in the top results.
SEO for websites is a growing and competitive field. That is why we recommend that whoever your pharmacy website designer is – they include at least basic SEO when designing your website. Later you or a designer can optimize more advanced SEO with keyword planning or blog posts like this one.
Types of SEO
Paid SEO: Another consideration is Google AdWords if you want rank at the top in less than a day. With Google AdWords you can set a budget and show up at the top of searches. For example: Set a budget for $35/day for the keyword: “compounding Pittsburgh”. A patient will see your website link on the top after a Google search. Once the link has been clicked a certain amount of times your budget will be reached and your link will not display the rest of the day.
Organic SEO: Oranic SEO refers to the methods used to obtain a high placement (or ranking) on a search engine results page in the unpaid section. This is highly desiered and very difficult to achieve. However it can be achieved through highly valuable content, blog posts, and more. That is why we suggest listing services like compounding and vaccinations on your website. These are subjects that most pharmacy owners and knowledgeable about and can often provide valuable content about on their website. Google encourages valuable content for readers and this helps with organic SEO a lot!
List your pharmacy services on your website
Not only should you list your services for SEO reasons but also because most patients don’t know the pharmacy does more than just fill prescriptions. Listing ALL your pharmacy services on your website is key to growing your pharmacy. When listing pharmacy services explain the benefit and why the pharmacy offers the service.
Be sure your patients know all of the services the pharmacy offers, not just on the website but in store as well. In-store signage is great for this type of message. Marketing your services should be your focus everywhere, not just on your pharmacy website. Creating a marketing plan that focuses on your service is key to growing any pharmacy.We encourage you to view our marketing plan blog post to learn more.
Pharmacy websites aren’t just for patients, focus on the prescriber also
When working with your website designer be sure to mention prescribers as part of your target audience. Prescribers do check out local pharmacies websites. Prescribers want to be sure they are sending their patients to a trusted pharmacy.
Another great tool to offer providers is a Prescriber Portal. A Prescriber Portal is an online portal that is specifically for prescribers. A prescriber can login with their unique ID into a trusted HIPAA compliant web portal. Once authenticated – the prescriber will be see various prescription forms. Prescribers can then check which prescription or compounding formula they wish to order for a patient.
ConfigRX is the first pharmacy web design company to launch a Prescriber Portal. This is a great marketing piece for any pharmacy to stand out from the competition. If you are interested in a Prescriber Portal for your pharmacy contact us.
Avoid the pharmacy website template design services
Many pharmacy websites companies are very “cookie cutter” or templated, and should be avoided. There are a number of pharmacy web design businesses offering website design. These are sometimes IVR companies offering a copy/paste website design as an add-on product.
Pharmacy website template are limited on design options, SEO and customization. Sadly, the pharmacy world is ran by a few large web design companies that use the same template and content on all their websites. Nothing is unique and when the search engines like Google views repetitive content/verbiage those websites actually take a negative SEO hit. Search engines love custom content and can easily detect when something is taken from another website.
We recommend staying away from pharmacy website template and the large pharmacy/ivr web design companies. Often they overcharge for their template websites. Work with a designer for a custom pharmacy website design. You will end up paying less for a unique higher quality website.
Optimize for mobile
A pharmacy website should be optimized for mobile devices like phones and tablets. More users are viewing websites from their personal mobile devices rather than a desktop computer. If a website isn’t mobile friendly most users never return to your website. This is why mobile optimization is key for patients requesting refills or wanting to learn more about your pharmacy.
Another key benefit from mobile optimization is SEO. Search engines rank mobile optimized websites higher than non-optimized mobile websites. To see if your website is mobile optimized for Google check out this link directly from Google.
Get VIPPS Accredited ASAP.
VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) is an accreditation program offered through NABP. VIPPS was created because of various online illegal pharmacy websites popping up. These illegal websites are out of compliance with US pharmacy law.
We recommend registering for VIPPS. Actually VIPPS is a requirement if you plan on marketing your website through most search engines including Google. VIPPS is also a requirement for some mail order pharmacy networks. We recommend reading more about VIPPS from NABP. This will also help SEO for the pharmacy website.
If you need help with VIPPS accreditation feel free to contact us. We have helped pharmacies become VIPPS accredited.
Choose the right pharmacy web design partner
If you are ready to move forward with an SEO friendly custom pharmacy website – talk to us or fill out the form below. ConfigRX is the industry leader in pharmacy web design. We invite you to check out our portfolio with some of our work.
Related pharmacy posts:
Pharmacy Marketing Plan to Increase Prescription Sales
7 tips that will help you choose between pharmacy names for your pharmacy
Innovative Independent Pharmacy Business Ideas Designed to Elevate Your Pharmacy
Know the Risks, Your Pharmacy Can Be Hacked
Think your independent pharmacy isn’t affected by hackers? Think again.
As a pharmacy technology consultant, I talk to many pharmacy owners across the country. I would say a good 60% of pharmacy owners believe their pharmacy isn’t susceptible to any type of cyber security threat or data theft. Of course, they all hear the security and data breaches on the news. But it would never happen to an independent pharmacy, right? Wrong. Independent Pharmacies are more at risk now than ever before.
Pharmacies are an excellent resource for hackers to steal PII (personally identifiable information) and PHI (patient health information). Why? Because pharmacies are easy to hack. They usually have an outdated firewall, if they even have a firewall. (A firewall is a device that protects the pharmacy internet network from the outside network or internet) Their router is usually of home grade security or hasn’t updated it’s firmware in years. Pharmacies usually are on outdated version of their operating system (WindowsXP, Windows 7). Pharmacies are also susceptible to social engineering attacks (see below).
What threats should my pharmacy worry about?
Pharmacies rely on a lot of different vulnerable technology. This is going up every day as pharmacies increase their reliance on tech. Let’s take a brief look at some of the threats facing independent pharmacies and pharmacists.
Malware – These are often found on social media, websites and email. Malware includes worms, trojans, viruses, spyware etc.. Where in pharmacies? Pharmacies usually get infected with malware by staff clicking on the links in social media or opening attachments in emails. Another place we see malware in pharmacies is when a staff member is doing research online and clicks the wrong link.
Social Engineering – This is when someone tries to manipulate pharmacy staff into giving them confidential or personal information that may be used for unintended purposes. Where in pharmacies? We see this when someone visits or calls into the pharmacy asking various questions, in an effort to receive valuable information. A recent situation with a client of ours was the following: A scammer from India called into the pharmacy claiming they were “MIcrosoft Technicians” and needed access to the computers for a “required security update”. These attacks happen everyday on small businesses and only awareness can prevent them. If you allow these scammers to connect to your computer they usually install ransomware.
Ransomware – This is software designed to encrypt your files on your computer or lock you out. The only way to remove this is to pay the “ransom” according to the ransomware. Where in pharmacies? This is found anywhere online. E-mail and websites being the most vulnerable to this attack. Hackers will send out mass emails with ransomware and hope someone opens the attacgment. Once a user opens the attachment it takes away the availability to certain data or systems unless the ransom is paid.
E-mail is the most vulnerable
E-mail – Pharmacies use email everyday to talk to patients, vendors, precribers etc.. However e-mail isn’t secure no matter your provider. These often can carry virus/malware attachments or phishing links. Proper training is needed with all pharmacy staff that uses e-mail. Getsafeonline.org offers a great article regarding e-mail safety.
Phishing – Unusually accomplished through e-mail phishing attempts to trick users into thinking they are submitting info to a secure site. Where in pharmacies? We have seen this as scammers/hackers try to send pharmacist to fake federal and state websites to steal credentials.
Vishing – This attack is becoming more and more prevalent. With VOIP phones being very popular a hacker can spoof/fake their caller ID. Where in pharmacies? Patients are being contacted by scammers using the pharmacies caller ID. Scammers are asking patients for credit card info, personal information and more. Scammers target the patients within a radius around the pharmacy. This attack is never good for the pharmacy because patients lose trust in the pharmacy. However, the pharmacy has nothing to do with this attack.
If your pharmacy is a victim of vishing contact us. We have experience on how to respond to this attack.
Pharmacists and pharmacy owners shouldn’t be thinking if but when I get hacked.
What should a pharmacy protect?
A pharmacy has a slew of information and technology they are obligated to protect. Everything from your pharmacy phone number – to patient info – to your digital certificate to order CII’s. These are just a few items to protect. A pharmacy is full of PII and PHI info.
Today pharmacies and health care providers are becoming even more connected through e-scribing portals and eMar systems. These provide additional gateways for hackers to cause problems. While these systems are usually somewhat secure, your pharmacy is still at risk just due to association.
Is my pharmacy liable?
Ultimately everyone should be responsible for protecting data, PHI, PII etc.. However if your pharmacy uses a persons data, you have an obligation to protect it. Currently it’s unclear who is ultimately responsible for small businesses. However, you can bet – if your pharmacy is the target of breach your reputation will take a huge hit. Many businesses never overcome a security breach and some ultimately go out of business. If you’re not taking security seriously this will eventually become a reality. The average costs to recover after a cyber breach for a small business is around $500,000.
If you are a victim of a data breach, you are required to notify your patients of this breach. The matter of notice time depends on your state. Each state address security breach notifications differently. Take a look at the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislators) website for your state regarding data breaches.
Does your Pharmacy System has a cloud environment?
Almost all pharmacy systems house all their data on a local server in your pharmacy. This creates even more data for a pharmacy to protect. However some pharmacy systems like McKesson Enterprise RX has a cloud (hosted) version of their pharmacy software. By using a cloud version of the pharmacy system you are transferring the risk to your software company.
Not all pharmacy systems have this option currently. Check with your pharmacy system to see if this is an option. If not – ask them some tips they recommend to protect your pharmacy data stored on their server.
Website Security / Patient Refills
Does your pharmacy have a website? A website is an extension of your business and you are responsible to protect it. Pharmacy websites are prime targets for “PharmaHack” – a hack where rogue injection are applied to pharmacy websites. They usually promote Viagra, Cialis etc..items that are illegal to promote online. If you click them you are sent to an illegal website to purchase these items. In most cases if you’re hacked with the PharmaHack any link on your website is redirected to the illegal website.
Does your website have online refills where patients enter prescription information? If so be sure your website is up-to-date with the latest updates and patches. Patients are trusting your website it secure when they enter their personal health info.
If you are concerned about your website might be hacked or susceptible contact us. We design custom pharmacy websites that are secure and professional. ConfigRX understands cyber security and the risks associated with running a pharmacy.
How to mitigate risk to your pharmacy
To be fair, managing your pharmacies security does take some time and money. However, time and money is something pharmacies usually don’t have to dedicate to security. So how do you protect yourself and your pharmacy from cyber threats? What we recommend to pharmacies who can’t afford manage services is to:
- Install anti-virus software, and keep it updated!
- Upgrade to business grade firewall/router
- Do awareness training to pharmacy staff member about security threats (E-mail, Phones, Fax, Internet Browsing etc)
- Use a policy of least privilege. If they don’t need access to it – don’t give access.
- Isolate your wireless network from your local area network (where your data resides)
- Reach out to your pharmacy management system. Ask them how they protect your data. What do they recommend?
- Install BitLocker on your workstations and servers
- If you don’t recognize it delete it – DON’T OPEN IT
- Keep pharmacy private information off social media
- Look for insurance related to cyber security
- Keep your plugins and CMS (WordPress, Joomla etc) up-to-date
- Install HTTPS on your website so website data isn’t in plaintext.
- If using a theme make sure it’s the most current version
- Monitor your website and block unwanted countries from access your website
Document document document your security
A good practice with security is to document everything you do. If the pharmacy does get breached you will want to have proof you did your due diligence. Although it can be tedious and time consuming, documentation can provide you with a record. This also helps for insurance and legal matters.
Don’t overlook pharmacy cyber security
Cyber Security is often added on after and owners do not consider security when planning a pharmacy. Which means most pharmacies are just doing patchwork to protect their systems and data. Always try to consider cyber security in any business venture from the ground up. That way you aren’t playing catch-up.
Sad truth is, you can never be 100% hacker proof. With technology changing everyday, new hacks and viruses are there to exploit the same technology. If you aren’t keeping your patches, operating systems and firmware updated, you will always be at a higher risk.
Managed pharmacy services with cyber security
Most pharmacies simply do not have the time to devote to security. With pharmacy managed services by ConfigRX we can help you reduce your security risk. We designed our managed services to include cyber security threats. We work with Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems to monitor your network traffic. This allows us to find unusual or unwanted network traffic, prevent unauthorized access, and protect your pharmacy technology.
Managed services by ConfigRX is designed to improve your pharmacy operations. On top of security can also provide you with IT support, IT monitoring, data backup and more. Get out of the “break/fix” mentality and take control of problems before they happen with managed services.
Our team has over 8 years of pharmacy IT experience. ConfigRX understands the pharmacy industry better than anyone. We work with you to come up with a security solution that fits your budget. To learn more about our managed services, visit our pharmacy managed services page.Learn more
Pharmacy Technology Consulting assists pharmacy owners with making business related decisions based on technology. In most cases a pharmacy owner is searching for advice on technology related items. For example: Pharmacy system, hardware, telecom, networking, analytics, data, compliance, audits and more. The consultant usually has years of professional experience dealing with such aspects of technology, and can accurately consult the client.
Why use a pharmacy technology consultant?
Many owners seek advice from consultants to run their pharmacy business. Below are some reasons why you should consider working with a pharmacy technology consultant.
Consultant’s know the industry and can help you make efficient and correct pharmacy decisions.
Many pharmacy owners seek the council of a consultant before making important business decisions. For example: What pharmacy system should my pharmacy be using? Sure, you may have experience on ComputerRX but is that really the best choice for your pharmacy? Have you ever thought about all the add-ons included at no cost with PioneerRX like MedSync and Compounding? How about the central reporting, cloud services and the support of Enterprise RX for chains? Point is – every pharmacy system is different and they all fill a different role.
A pharmacy consultant will be able to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of each major pharmacy system. There are some great things that each pharmacy system offers. A pharmacy consultant should be able to recommend a pharmacy system based on only a brief phone call.
Talking to a pharmacy consulting company can save you a ton of money
As consultants in technology, our goal is to make sure clients are not overpaying for what they currently are using in their pharmacy. Telecom for example: Most pharmacy owners are overpaying for their phone, internet and IVR services. A pharmacy technology consultant will be able to recommend ways to negotiate, change or replace services to save the pharmacy time and money. Do you know about VOIP or SIP technology for phones? What about Best Effort Fiber that offers great speeds, unbeatable uptime and affordable pricing?
Another example is Pharmacy System Hardware – computers, printers, scanners etc..Most owners believe you must purchase this through the pharmacy system. The truth is that you can buy this hardware yourself resulting in saving thousands of dollars. An added benefit of purchasing hardware yourself – the hardware lasts usually a few years longer. There is no leasing or renting your equipment with monthly fees. You own the equipment it’s yours.
Using Pharmacy Consultants to find and keep patients through technology
Has your pharmacy ever used your IVR services as an outbound marketing tool? How about using tablets/laptops at health fairs or when doing flu clinics? The fact is, technology if used correctly can elevate the patient experience with your pharmacy. Pharmacy mobile apps make it easy to request refills and check prescription stats. What about using technology to verify scripts remotely? Yes this is a thing. A consultant can recommend ways to use technology to reach patients and grow your independent pharmacy.
Multiple store owner? You should be talking to a technology consultant.
Multiple pharmacy store owners can benefit from technology greatly. Technology like site to site VPNs allow for secure communication between pharmacy locations. Another great benefit of owning multiple stores is bulk discounting. A pharmacy consultant can negotiate better rates for their clients when it come to monthly fees like telecom, pharmacy systems, purchasing, IVR and more.
Purchasing a Pharmacy – Technology Evaluation
When an owner purchases a pharmacy the technology is usually a mix of old and new technology. The network usually isn’t compliant with PCI/DSS. There are HIPAA violations everywhere and half the technology is slow. A pharmacy technology consultant can evaluate the current technology and recommend industry standard compliant equipment. A consultant will bring valuable industry insight when purchasing a pharmacy as well as alternatives. For instance, switching pharmacy systems is a major project. A technology consultant can prepare you for change management. How to approach the change and what to expect.
Starting a pharmacy – The right technology pieces
For owners looking to start a pharmacy a consultant can provide advice on which technology to use in the startup. Pick and choose what technology pieces would help the pharmacy grow over time. Using the right technology services to ensure uptime. Ensure the pharmacy owner isn’t overpaying for technology services like internet, phones, IVR, marketing etc..
ConfigRX is the leader in pharmacy technology consulting
We consult pharmacy owners everyday on technology. We have almost 10 years of starting, buying, selling and operating independent pharmacies. Our goal is to ensure your pharmacy is using the correct technology, not overpaying for services and allowing technology to work for your pharmacy. If you think you are in need of Pharmacy Technology Consulting reach out to us. We are here to answer any question you may have regarding technology in your pharmacy.
Every pharmacy business owner wants to provide excellent patient care while growing their pharmacy year over year. Your pharmacy has tried various marketing ideas and marketing plans but nothing seems to work. In this article we take a look at some unique innovative pharmacy ideas using technology to take your pharmacy to the next level.
Go Mobile with a Mobile Pharmacy App
A pharmacy mobile app is an excellent way to grow your pharmacy and reach patients. For example: You can advertise your pharmacy mobile app with in-store signage, t-shirts, window decals or bag stuffers. Another great method I see a lot of pharmacy owners do is create QR codes on the prescription bags so patients can download their pharmacy application.
Pharmacy mobile apps allow you to keep in touch with your patients. Almost all pharmacy apps give patients the option to request refills and set reminders to take medication. But some apps allow the pharmacy to directly communicate with the patient through the app. This is a great tool for communication and provides a direct line to the pharmacy for the patient.
There are a lot of other cool things an app can do. For example: Show a picture of the medication the patient should be taking. Lookup detailed information about prescriptions (expiration date, last filled on, dosage instructions etc..)
If you decide an app will work for your pharmacy you have two options. First if you have a pharmacy IVR you can ask if they develop mobile apps. Some of them do and some do not. Second, check to see if your pharmacy system offers a mobile app development. Most of them do.
However, we do recommend going with your IVR company for the mobile app. Most of the time IVR companies develop custom mobile apps with your pharmacy name. Most of the pharmacy systems will just add your pharmacy to an already made app not custom to your pharmacy.
Offer mobile payments through your Point Of Sale
Does your pharmacy offer a delivery service? If so, why not allow patients to pay when the prescription is delivered? Most point of sale systems now offer mobile payment solutions usually on an i-pad. For example: PioneerRx offers mobile PoS (point of sale) included with their point of sale system.
Mobile Point of Sale usually requires a data plan on a tablet from a cellular provider. However, this is a must-have for any pharmacy owner. Patients expect independent pharmacies to keep up on their technology. This is a great addition to any workflow and usually patients can sign the i-pad with their finger. So when your drive comes to reconcile the signature is automatically added to the pharmacy system.
Curbside service is another option. What is curbside pharmacy service? This is when pharmacies who do not have a drive-thru will come to the parking lot to deliver the medication. The patient never has to leave their car and can pay for their prescription on the i-pad.
Focus on innovative outbound marketing for your current patients
Do you only communicate with your patients when they come into the pharmacy? Do you send out happy birthday cards? Perhaps upping your outbound communications can help your patients stay connected to you. Try to reach out to your current patients with your services because odds are most are not aware of all your services.
What is outbound communication? This can mean outbound texting through your IVR provider or pharmacy system. Notifying a prescription is ready or their refill is due. The best part about outbound texting is most if not all can be automated. Patients can sometimes reply back via text and talk to the staff directly. Check with your pharmacy system for these features.
Another form of outbound marketing is direct mailers. These are often expensive but can provide a great return on investment. If you decide to do direct mail be sure to create a great value coupon to get patients in your door or on the phone.
Update your Google Maps (Google My Business) page
A great way to get new customers into your pharmacy is to stay on top of your Google Maps listing. This is a free tool offered by Google that helps business owners manage their online presence in Google Maps. Not to mention it helps with SEO on your pharmacy website. Here you can add photos, hours, reviews and more of your pharmacy. The more complete and updated your Google My Business page is the more likely you are to show up when someone types in “pharmacy near me”.
Also, do not forget to add your services here. If you offer compounding or medication flavoring you should add those services to the page. In addition to all these marketing benefits you can see how many people found directions, address or phone number to your pharmacy every month. Google now offers the ability to create updated posts about your business, kind of like social media. For a complete guide on Google My Business and optimization of your page check out this page.
In conclusion, there are many ways to grow your pharmacy. We only focused on a few technology inspired ideas for marketing. Stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter to learn more technology driven ideas to elevate your pharmacy!
In this article we look at deciding between pharmacy names for an independent pharmacy. We discuss 7 tips for an awesome pharmacy name and how they affect your pharmacy growth.
Pharmacy owners often fret over a name and they rightfully should be worried. The sad truth is: A pharmacy name can sometimes make all the difference. For example: Would you want to order Dophinfish at a restaurant or Mahi Mahi? Mahi Mahi right? That’s much better? You don’t want to eat a dolphin! The point is names are very powerful and they provide a starting point for your brand and pharmacy. Importantly here are a few things to consider when determining a pharmacy name.
1. Does it sound good when it’s said aloud?
Think about some brand names that just sound cool. Examples: Shopify, Coca-Cola, Chick-Fil-A, Pfizer, or The Home Depot. These are all easy smooth sounding names and when you say them aloud you do not confuse them with other brand names. Take the word Pharmacy for example: When combined with a first/last name of an owner does it sound right? Example: Smith’s Pharmacy.. it just sounds boring. SmithRX is a little more modern. Some names just work better than others. Another substitute for pharmacy can be RX, prescriptions, or drug store (remote areas only).
2. Focus on your surroundings.
I see a lot of pharmacy owners name their pharmacy after their town or city. This works well if your goal is to focus on the community. It shows you are dedicated to your community and ready to serve it’s patients. Consequently this can also hamper your growth if you decide to expand your business outside of your town/city.
3. Follow the guidelines:
Some guidelines include: Suggestive – This suggest what you actually do. Meaningful – Your name has a strong meaning and not confusing. Catchy – It’s easy to say aloud and not boring. Easy – It’s easy to remember and type into GPS. Professional – Prescribers will want to send patients to you.
4. Test out your pharmacy names on Google AdWords.
Doing a search on Adwords allows you to see similar search results with that keyword. Additionally you can see the volume associated with that word. This will help you in the future when you decide to run SEO and marketing campaigns.
5. It doesn’t have to be like every other name
Earlier we mentioned to include the words pharmacy or RX in the name. This isn’t mandatory, your name can be anything as long as it can easily be related to what you do. Don’t be afraid to be different and stand out from the competition.
6. Use your services in your name
If your pharmacy offers compounding it might benefit you to incorporate the word compounding somewhere in your name or logo. Ex: The Compounding Lab. PrEP-RX (pre-exposure prophylaxis) I even heard of some pharmacies adding “Free Delivery” to their business name. A trendy word I see a lot now is “Hybrid”.
7.Be sure you can trademark it
Questions to ask about your pharmacy names:
- Does the name make sense? Does it convey my line of business?
- Are there any slang or related terms to my pharmacy name?
- How does the name translate in another language?
- Is it an easily marketable name?
Register your pharmacy name domain
In addition as soon as you decide on your pharmacy name you should register the domain with a domain name registrar such as GoDaddy, HostGator etc… To learn more about registering your domain name and comparing the options check out this post. Nevertheless you need to register the domain name before anyone else can claim it. Domain names are often relatively cheap as well.
Website / Logo / Pharmacy Marketing Plan
Lastly, after you decide on your pharmacy name you should look into logo and website. Every pharmacy should have a professional logo and website. Having a professional design builds your brands trust and reputation. The successful pharmacies have a logo that spreads brand awareness and a website that encompasses their services. After you have those items you should focus on creating a pharmacy marketing plan.
When you do open your pharmacy you should allocate some of your time and budget to marketing. Some experts suggest a 5% of your revenue be allocated to your marketing budget. Having a pharmacy marketing planning and following through with it will put you miles ahead of most of your competition. Most independent pharmacies neglect marketing. Marketing if done correctly can propel your business and reach new patients.
Summary of choosing a pharmacy name for your pharmacy.
Now that you have some ideas for your pharmacy name it’s time to get to work. Run your ideas by your family, friends and co-workers (if possible). If you need help feel free to contact us and we would be glad to give input on your name at no cost! We have helped our clients with names and have valuable marketing experience to relate.
Related pharmacy posts:
Pharmacy Marketing Plan to Increase Prescription Sales
Pharmacy Website Design and Pharmacy Website Template
Innovative Independent Pharmacy Business Ideas Designed to Elevate Your Pharmacy