BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy is a business built on speed of service. Not to be confused with standard retail pharmacies, BioPlus specializes in supplying medications for around a dozen disease states, ranging from oncology and multiple sclerosis to hepatitis C and a variety of dermatological conditions.
When BioPlus launched in 1989, the process of a pharmacy accepting a new patient, verifying their health coverage and authorizing supply of what is frequently high-cost medication could typically take up to 11 business days. BioPlus reduced this period to just two hours.
“If you're a cancer patient, waiting two weeks without knowing if your plan covers your medication is a really big thing,” explains Fred Gagle, Vice President of Technology at BioPlus. “We wanted to turn the industry on its head, so we developed our operations and technology to support that two-hour promise.”
Unsurprisingly, BioPlus has since recorded highly impressive growth, particularly in the last 10 years. From their original headquarters location in central Florida, BioPlus’s operations now stretch from California to New York, with the staff count rising from less than 100 to almost 600.
BioPlus’s strong growth meant it needed an IT environment that would scale with the business, enabling staff to deliver on their service commitments while ensuring the security of highly sensitive client data. Having previously operated mainly on-premises, during 2021 BioPlus migrated to a Citrix DaaS platform using the Citrix cloud console to manage a multi-cloud environment on both AWS and Azure.
“We don't want to have to maintain servers and updates; we're trying to get out of that,” says Gagle. “Citrix cloud services were a great fit with the technology strategy we were looking to roll out. And we liked that it would allow us to run with multiple cloud providers – that was a big win for us.”
The new platform now handles around 600 PC-based endpoints, rising to around 900 when including mobile devices and tablets. Using a redundant connection supported by NetScaler, Gagle estimates system uptime to be “at least 99.9%,” enabling BioPlus to maintain its 24/7 operations.
“The onboarding for Citrix is where it really shines,” Gagle adds. “When we publish an app we only have to publish it once. All we have to do is make sure the Citrix environment is sized appropriately, then the roll-out is quick and it’s up and available for our employees, patients and physicians.”
The COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 caused a number of challenges for BioPlus’s previous platform, with home networks and other variables often making network connections unreliable and issues difficult for the business’s IT team to resolve.
“It was like going from a zoo to a safari,” notes Gagle. “We had a very controlled on-premises environment; everything had its processes and we knew its capabilities and limitations. But in the home environment, we have all these unknowns and variables that IT can't control.”
The Citrix-based environment proved to be transformative. As well as being able to handle BioPlus’s legacy software, which is crucial to its service delivery, Citrix DaaS also gives BioPlus’ staff added freedom and flexibility in where and how they work. Highly compact communication and transmission protocols ensure effective and secure connections even in relatively poor local network environments.
“Some solutions we looked at needed 10MB per user per session,” Gagle explains. “With Citrix, that requirement goes down to just 200KB. There’s a world of difference, and it significantly reduced the number of tickets and complaints we receive.”
The new levels of staff freedom open up significant opportunities for BioPlus. The need for office real estate is now reduced by up to half, as employees can choose to work securely either at home or at the office. And the savings continue: the low demand that Citrix solutions typically place on system resources means that BioPlus can also reduce its hardware refresh cycle and associated budgets.
“You don’t need a $2,000 laptop to run Citrix,” says Gagle. “We’ve even run it on technology we previously retired and users have had the same experience as on a more expensive or modern machine, because they don't need the speed and horsepower. We’re looking at savings of well over $1 million in two years, and that’s recurring.”
And for BioPlus, the journey is continuing. Gagle plans to implement a full Citrix VDI solution across the business by the end of 2022, and then expand its reporting and business intelligence capabilities with Citrix Analytics. “Our main focus right now is diving more deeply into those waters,” says Gagle. “We’re moving full steam ahead with Citrix now.”
You don’t need a $2,000 laptop to run Citrix. We’ve even run it on technology we previously retired and users have had the same experience as on a more expensive or modern machine, because they don't need the speed and horsepower. We’re looking at savings of well over $1 million in two years, and that’s recurring.