Q&A: McKesson HVS’ Tammaro talks customized central fill
For more than 25 years, McKesson High Volume Solutions has been designing and implementing central fill, mail and specialty pharmacy systems that automate the dispensing of more than 200 million prescriptions per year. Drug Store News spoke with McKesson HVS vice president of sales, Joe Tammaro, to discuss the role automation plays in a successful central-fill pharmacy.
Drug Store News: What types of pharmacies benefit most from central fill?
Joe Tammaro: Almost any pharmacy with multiple dispensing locations can benefit from centralization and automation as long as they have a progressive outlook when it comes to embracing technology and culture change. While we’ve seen smaller operations be successful, the typical customer is a chain or health system that fills around 2,000 scripts per day.
Central fill is an enabler. It’s the engine that allows a pharmacy to offer clinical services and increase the value of its pharmacy staff, expand in to new markets like mail order or adherence packaging or even add new geographic markets.
DSN: How does McKesson HVS differ from other out-of-the-box competitors?
JT: That’s simple, we have a high-touch, consultative approach to solving our customer’s problems. Most of our leadership and many of our employees were once customers who understand the importance of building lasting relationships with not only those choosing to implement the system, but also those using it on a daily basis.
The machinery and technology are the easy part. Where HVS truly excels is in the integration of the interconnected systems, logistics, inventory management and new store-side processes for the customer. Our software is specifically designed to tie everything together, so the pharmacy can fill prescriptions through their central fill and not give it a second thought. Once the prescription is entered on the front end, our software helps determine the best route through the system to ensure it is filled in the most efficient way and delivered back to the prescribing location, or sent directly to the patient. Our systems are truly customized to the unique needs of each client, which is what sets us apart. In the 31 years I’ve been doing this, I honestly don’t think I’ve seen two identical systems.
We can, and have worked with many software and hardware partners, but being part of McKesson, we have relationships within the organization that add value to our systems that others can’t replicate. For instance, we offer a seamless integration with the EnterpriseRx Pharmacy Management System, so the store-side and central-fill systems operate in unison. Another of our sister companies, Supplylogix, plays an integral role in how we help manage inventory. Together, we can help increase sell-through rates to minimize potential losses from unsalable returns at each dispensing location. And, being part of McKesson Distribution, we know the logistics and shipping world. Bottom line, these are the things that often make or break central-fill success, and we excel in all of them.
DSN: Tell us about the process of designing a system.
JT: First and foremost, it’s a consultative approach. One of the first things we do is conduct extensive interviews within the prospective business to identify specific goals they have for the system now and in the future. Only then can we design a system that not only utilizes superior technology but also grows with them. We’re part of the customer’s process long before any hardware is installed as we build a strategy, analyze their prescription capacity, and work through any potential regulatory compliance issues.
We have multiple purchase models that make central fill easy to adopt. If available capital is an issue, we have a model called “Central Fill as a Service,” where we retain ownership of the facility, staff it, provide inventory and only charge the customer a per-script fee. This can be a real cost savings. Of course, we offer the traditional purchase model, as well.