Centralized cloud network management enables rapid growth to better serve the intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) community
Pharmacy acquisitions, onboarding, and modernization are accelerated with streamlined IT deployment
Ease of management minimizes costs by allowing entry- and mid-level IT generalists to administer the network
400% revenue growth over three years driven by rapid integration of pharmacy acquisitions
As much as $300,000 saved annually by not needing to hire networking specialists
Deployed a fully modernized IT infrastructure at each new pharmacy in less than 90 days
Tarrytown Expocare Pharmacy is a long-term care institutional pharmacy specializing in the underserved intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) community. With ten locations and regulatory approval in 30 states across the U.S., Tarrytown Expocare works with facilities such as group homes or foster families to provide essential medications to residents in their care.
The privately held company has become well known for its efficient shipments of monthly prescription cycle fills, and a unique color-coded blister pack that makes it easy for residents or their caregivers, who often have no clinical certifications, to safely administer medications.
Founded in 1941 as an Austin, Texas, retail family pharmacy, which still operates, Tarrytown Expocare was spun out in 2007 to serve that state’s IDD community. In 2020, company founder Mark Newberry sought private equity financing to rapidly expand its operations to help IDD residents across the United States. The company has since grown to about $250 million in annual revenues.
With the private equity financing came a new executive team, hired to aggressively grow the business. Scott Walker joined as CIO in April 2020, bringing more than a decade of experience working in the institutional pharmacy sector. His role was to quickly prepare their IT to support the company’s growth plan. He built out two technology teams: a pharmacy software and an IT Support/Administration group. This included finding strategic partners to outsource several functions, allowing the internal team to focus on the rapidly growing business. Today, Tarrytown Expocare employs only 14 people in full-time tech roles.
To meet state regulations, the company’s expansion strategy often requires establishing a new physical location, typically through the acquisition of a small, existing pharmacy. “They may be a single-standing pharmacy that’s used duct tape and bailing wire to put their computer systems together,” says Walker. The rapid acquisitions required modernizing the IT systems to integrate with central operations and help the new pharmacy run with an efficiency that differentiates it from local competitors. Tarrytown Expocare needed a way to easily connect and remotely manage the IT infrastructure at new locations to enable business growth.
Having used Cisco Meraki networking solutions in his three previous roles, Walker again looked to the Meraki platform to facilitate his IT needs.
Walker devised a streamlined deployment model that starts with preconfigured Meraki MS switches, MR access points, and MX security and SD-WAN appliances. Simplified and centralized cloud management allows a mid-level IT administrator to quickly set up and configure the full Meraki network at a new location. Almost immediately, Walker’s team can begin to focus on migrating all computing and storage out of the pharmacy and into the cloud, as well as implement cloud-based virtual desktop and unified communications systems. The integration of a site-to-site VPN tunnel also allows the team to easily set up SD-WAN to access the old pharmacy system and begin switching it over to Tarrytown Expocare’s platform.
Cisco Meraki simplifies network management so you don’t need a highly skilled specialist for that role. It’s easy to implement and easy to support for the entry-level to mid-level IT person.
CIO, Tarrytown Expocare Pharmacy
This templated approach has expedited the modernization of IT systems in eight new locations, bringing them each online within 90 days of acquisition.
None of that could have happened without the simplicity of Meraki networking, says Walker. “I can send a person without specialized training and get the entire network converted. It has saved us headaches as well as the cost of having to hire additional IT support to manage our networks,” he notes. “The expediency of getting these new locations on our network has immediate business value.”
Rapidly expanding a pharmacy business comes with many complexities, but in Tarrytown Expocare’s small IT shop, network management is not one of them. The cloud-based Meraki platform takes care of security patches and version updates on its own, “so you can stop thinking about it,” says Walker. “The benefits of cloud-based services can’t be understated.” The rest is entrusted to the four IT generalists on his operations team. The ease of deployment and management removes the need for a senior-level IT person to set up, configure, and administer the network at each location. “Because it’s got a great user interface, I can have my Windows system administrators learn Meraki and they can sufficiently manage and monitor the network.”
The expediency of getting these new locations on our network has immediate business value. Meraki is a key component of that success.
CIO, Tarrytown Expocare Pharmacy
In fact, the intuitiveness of Meraki technology helps spread responsibility for network monitoring. “Alerts from the Meraki services go to our entire IT department,” says Walker. It’s important for the Pharmacy Services team, for instance, to know for themselves if a location can’t connect to their software, not just one or two network specialists.
As with many IT departments, Walker’s team is at the nexus of numerous critical business initiatives, from improving its mobile app and web experience to pursuing more automation. As the company pushes into the future, Walker and his team appreciate how Meraki has made concerns over network management a thing of the past. “My ‘easy button’ stopped working probably 30 years ago,” he says. “I appreciate how Meraki simplifies that part of my world.”