Customer Success Specialist
TelePharm, Iowa City, IA
As a teenager, Nicole Bernabe, CPhT, worked for her father, a pharmacist in a small independent pharmacy in a rural Iowa community. She enjoyed pharmacy work from the start, and at age 15, took the initiative to implement a new inventory system in the pharmacy from the ground up using scanners and numerical categorization. A pharmacy technician since 1997, she has been employed in independent, community, hospital, long-term care, and veterinary practice settings.
In her current position as Customer Success Specialist at TelePharm, Nicole is responsible for guiding the openings of new telepharmacies, from designing a store to ordering its vials. She provides domain expertise to the telepharmacy software development team, and defines telepharmacy specific policies to govern technician training and ensure regulatory compliance. Nicole also assists in fostering relationships between patients, pharmacists, technicians, and providers, and provides insight on how to enhance the pharmacy work flow.
“TelePharm is assisting rural communities in bringing a pharmacy back to their towns, and it is one of my responsibilities to help lead this strategic initiative,” says Nicole. “Developing a new model of pharmacy, and pioneering new regulations is a challenging process that requires innovation on its own. Assuring the pharmacy is set up properly and the staff is trained effectively is critical to delivering the highest level of patient care. The procedures I am part of developing are setting the framework for telepharmacy regulations of the future.” She says she also wants to help build industry awareness of telepharmacy.
Nicole became PTCB-Certified in 2010. “Obtaining my PTCB certification was essential to the progression of my career. It gave me recognition as a professional in the pharmacy community,” she says. “Maintaining my certification allows me to stay relevant, agile, and adaptable in an evolving pharmacy industry.” Nicole says PTCB’s recertification process encourages her to take on new projects, develop new skill sets, and gain new knowledge and experience through continuing education.
“I am thrilled to experience the gratitude first-hand that is expressed by members of rural communities where TelePharm is bringing traditional pharmacy services that did not exist before, or had been lost,” she says. “After spending most of my time in an urban community, I had forgotten how important access to vital health care services like pharmacies is for rural economies, patient care, and personal well-being.”
In the future, Nicole looks forward to learning to use several new pharmacy management software solutions, developing universally accepted telepharmacy policies and procedures, and helping create a telepharmacy design and brand that assures customers they are purchasing medications and devices from a properly licensed pharmacy that is in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.
The telepharmacy model offers new opportunities for pharmacy technicians to take on more responsibility in the pharmacy. Under this model, the pharmacist is not on-site every day, so daily operations are handled by a technician under remote supervision by a pharmacist. The awareness of and demand for telepharmacy is increasing. For example, TelePharm reports a 400% increase in the number of stores it opened in 2015 compared to 2014.
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