A few months ago, I accidentally washed my cell phone. I tried everything to get it back up and running again. I even tried that trick where you put it in a bag of rice to try to leech out the moisture to no avail. Luckily I did have warranty coverage on my phone so I was able to get a replacement underway from my wireless carrier. But it was Saturday which meant my replacement wouldn’t ship until Monday which left me without my phone until Tuesday. While I made it through the weekend without going into technology withdrawal on too large of a scale, I was in for a bit of a reality check when my new phone finally arrived.
Although my contacts and calendar had been synced with my Gmail account, much of the other data I had kept on my phone was lost forever. Photos and videos that I had foolishly failed to back up to any other technology and saved directly to my phone were gone along with notes, lists, recipes etc. that I kept on my phone for easy access. It would have been a simple matter to back up these items on an SD card or sync up my phone to my email account. But I didn’t do it. I didn’t even think about it until it was too late. After all, my phone was functioning quite well, showing no signs of impending failure and it was pretty much impossible that I’d carelessly lay it near a pile of laundry to be scooped into the washing machine. But it did happen, and I paid the price.
While the loss of some of the data on my phone impacted me intensely on a personal level, that experience can’t even come close to some of the things I’ve seen happen working with pharmacy point-of-sale. What businesses have to lose should unexpected catastrophe strike is devastating on a completely different level, and because many independent pharmacies are small businesses with little to no redundancy in their technology, the failure of one key system can set off a chain reaction of lost information that can basically set your pharmacy back to square one when it comes to data and records.
Imagine for a moment, that your pharmacy has one register. Every dollar spent in your pharmacy runs through that single system. It integrates with your pharmacy system, captures all necessary signatures, tracks AR, and manages your Customer Loyalty. If that system unexpectedly fails, it won’t be easy to cope, but you have a plan in place to limp along and get your customers taken care of while the system is repaired or replaced and brought back online. But what if you haven’t backed up that register in a while? Or perhaps ever? If the failure was hard drive related you could suddenly lose records of signatures, outstanding AR Balances, and all of your customer information. If you’re lucky some of the data might be recoverable, but often times, it could be gone for good.
Even if you have more than one register, or have a back office system where your point-of-sale data also resides, not having a current back up could still be detrimental. While it’s not fun to think about the potential for natural disaster (theft, fire, etc.), there are many things besides a hardware failure that could bring your POS systems down and cause data loss. And while it may not be on your immediate to do list should the worst happen, eventually you’ll want to restore your business to its original condition, which includes the data that was stored on systems that are potentially no longer viable.
The good news is that keeping a current backup of all of your data is easy. While there are many cloud based backup services that charge for storage of data, perhaps one of the most cost effective ways is to simply use a rotating physical storage option. At RMS we recommend obtaining a couple of USB flash drives. At the end of each day, plug one flash drive in and take the previous day’s drive out. Either take that drive with you off site, or store it in a secure fireproof, waterproof safe. Your POS system should be able to be automatically set to run a backup each night to a specified drive location. In this case, that USB flash drive needs to be plugged in at the end of each business day. You’ll also want to periodically check to make sure that those backups are successful. At least once a week, we recommend checking the drive to make sure that files are being updated as expected.
This relatively simple process should help to make sure that your pharmacy is protected from a potential worst-case scenario. If you’re an RMS customer, please feel free to contact us if you’re not sure about the status of your back-ups or if you need assistance setting things up. We look forward to helping you safeguard the information that keeps your pharmacy running smoothly.
Karen Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customer service, and was initially brought on board as a Sales Assistant and managed IIAS certifications for RMS’s pharmacy POS customers. Today, Karen works as a Customer Success Manager, striving to provide independent and institutional pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s competitive pharmacy market.