September 17, 2020
Inside: Use techs at the top of their license for a more efficient pharmacy.
As pharmacies expand clinical services, pharmacists are spending more face-time with patients. The duties of pharmacy technicians have expanded as well, allowing them to step into roles that were previously only occupied by pharmacists.
From checking medication to screening patients’ medical histories, allowing your pharmacy techs to practice at the top of their license gives you more opportunity to focus on patients.
Here’s how you can take advantage of your techs’ skills to provide more comprehensive patient support.
In 20 states pharmacy technicians can now check prescriptions that have been filled by someone else or by a dispensing system. Numerous studies of this practice have shown that technicians are just as accurate — or more accurate — than pharmacists when performing medication checks.
Additionally, other studies have shown that by outsourcing medication checks to pharmacy techs, pharmacists have significantly more time to provide direct patient care. If your state allows the tech-check-tech model, you as a pharmacist could regain the equivalent of 23 days a year by implementing it.
In Rhode Island, Idaho, and Utah, pharmacy technicians are allowed to administer vaccinations to patients if they complete a training program from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
If this is an option in your state, getting your pharmacy techs trained to administer immunizations can add efficiency to your pharmacy during a busy flu season.
In the 47 states where pharmacy techs can’t administer vaccines, they can still provide administrative support during flu season by helping with billing and reporting adverse events.
Recouping payments from third-party payers is a time-consuming headache, but pharmacy technicians can step in to help.
Enlist pharmacy techs to help you with the reconciliation process. They can help maintain organized records in order to track down which claims have been filed and which haven’t, which claims remain unpaid, and claims have only received partial payments from insurance companies.
Not only does this save you time, but you may also recover tens of thousands of dollars in missing money.
There are even classes to teach pharmacy techs how to tackle third-party billing from the ASHP — a small investment in a tech’s education could lead to significant time and cash savings for you.
Pharmacy technicians aren’t allowed to counsel patients, so that duty needs to stay with the pharmacist, but they can give patients instructions. They can instruct patients on the directions that the manufacturer has printed on the bottle and answer questions like whether to take a medication with food, as long as they make it clear to the patient that this information is coming from the manufacturer and is not medical advice.
Technicians shouldn’t answer any question that involves them giving their opinion, and they should refer patients to the pharmacist for questions that stray from the information that isn’t readily available on the bottle.
When patients come into the pharmacy to receive clinical services, pharmacy technicians can act as an intermediary between them and the pharmacist. Before they actually see the pharmacist, the pharmacy technician can collect important background information about any symptoms they have as well as their medication history.
Pharmacy technicians are particularly skillful at obtaining medication histories and they have a good eye for identifying dosing errors. Another study found that there was no difference in patient outcomes between those who had their medication history obtained by pharmacists and those who spoke with a pharmacy technician.
After the pharmacy has conducted the appropriate screening, they can also assist the pharmacist by prepping any supplies.
More pharmacies are taking on point-of-care testing, and pharmacy technicians are well-positioned to assist in this arena. In addition to helping with patient screening, pharmacy technicians are also allowed to perform CLIA-waived point-of-care tests, which are simple to perform and have a low risk of incorrect test results. Some of those tests include:
This is especially important to know as more pharmacies take on the task of COVID-19 testing.
By utilizing pharmacy technicians in this manner, not only do you lighten the load for pharmacists, but you also reduce wait times for patients, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.
Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is a crucial tool for helping patients stay on top of their prescriptions and improve health outcomes, and pharmacy technicians can have an active role in providing the service.
Pharmacy technicians can work with patients and their various healthcare providers to obtain accurate medical records and talk with patients about their medication adherence. When they find discrepancies, they flag them for the pharmacist.
Effectively managing inventory can be a time-consuming task, and if it’s not done properly, it can eat into the store’s cash flow. Instead of taking on the task all by yourself, you can collaborate with one of your pharmacy technicians.
Make a technician the point person for inventory management tasks. They can take the lead on performing accurate inventory counts, rotating stock, and returning outdated prescriptions.
A technician can also monitor the pharmacy’s most dispensed medications to help determine how often they should reorder and what quantities they should order.
A trusted pharmacy tech can take managerial and administrative tasks off the plate of the pharmacist.
Instead of managing techs yourself, hire a technician to supervise their peers. They know better than you what it’s like to work as a tech, meaning they are well-equipped to manage the daily workflow and schedules of other technicians, and they can serve as a liaison for you.
In addition to taking management duties off your plate, pharmacy technicians can also do the heavy lifting on administrative tasks around the pharmacy. From transcribing and clarifying prescriptions to keeping the pharmacy organized, techs taking ownership over these more tedious tasks can keep the workflow running smoothly.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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