The Ever-Evolving Role of Pharmacy Technicians

by pharmacy on December 7, 2016

pharmacy technicianAs the healthcare landscape continues to transform and shift, more pharmacy technicians are seeing drastic changes in their roles and responsibilities.

Technicians’ presence in the pharmacy industry has steadily been growing, as the technicians are a very important part of pharmacy operation. Their main job is to support the pharmacist in the various roles they play throughout all practice settings. In many ways, pharmacy techs are the backbone of the pharmacy operation, and for a pharmacy to be successful, they must play an active role.

In the beginning, technicians were limited to the tasks they performed, serving only as a cashier or clerk, since states had clearly outlined restrictions on what tasks they could and could not do. As such, there were low pharmacist-to-tech ratios.

Over time, techs began to take on more responsibility, including entering prescriptions into the system, actually filling prescriptions, reconstituting medications, and talking with doctor’s offices and insurance companies.

Because the technicians have done such a great job at supporting pharmacists and other staff, there is now more acceptance and recognition for the need of techs in every pharmacy. Much of the growth we’ve seen has taken place in the last few years, perhaps as a result of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Now that more Americans have insurance and are actively seeing medical professionals, the total number of prescriptions has risen, placing a higher demand on pharmacies in all settings – hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and standalone chains. Because of this, technicians are taking on more responsibility to assist the pharmacists, so customers can get the medication they need, when they need it, without having to wait because of the influx of increased medication demand.

Technicians are now learning drug interactions and therapy duplication to assist in the prescription filling process. Gone are the days when a technician is nothing more than a simple helper – they are now serving as partners in the patient care process.

As more pharmacy technicians are asked to take on more advanced roles within the pharmacy, it’s expected that educational requirements will change. There’s a big difference between running the cash register and filling medications for patients. If technicians reach provider status, we’ll definitely see education requirements become more stringent in the coming years. This is also important for pharmacists, who will then be able to pass non-clinical tasks to technicians, allowing them to take on more direct clinic roles as health care providers.

Even though the pharmacy technician role is constantly changing – one thing remains the same – the core role of advancing patient care.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pia Tillis January 14, 2017 at 7:53 pm

With the changing and expanding roles for pharmacy technucians the pay needs to be in line as well. They should be making at least half of what a pharmacist makes per hour.

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