As pharmacy technicians are taking on more roles that require advanced skill sets, medication therapy management (MTM) and immunizations/vaccinations are among the most important, according to a session presented at the first annual National Pharmacy Technician Association’s virtual Pharmacy Technician Student Summit.

Jeremy Sasser, BS, CPhT, a pharmacy content strategist at the National Healthcareer Association, discussed the rapid growth of the pharmacy industry and responsibilities for pharmacy roles, with 40% of employers reporting that pharmacy technicians have more responsibility this year compared with last.

Further, Sasser explained how pharmacists spend only 21% of their time performing non-dispensing duties instead of providing clinical services, with 53% of pharmacists experiencing burnout. This makes the role of pharmacy technicians crucial in the pharmacy landscape with skills such as MTM under their belt, according to Sasser.

MTM involves a range of services to optimize patients’ medication regimen while detecting and preventing potentially costly medication errors. Pharmacy technicians complete 56% of tasks related to medication history collection and reconciliation, according to Sasser.

Pharmacies are looking at technicians for this skillset, as MTM is a departure from traditional workflows, and new approaches that involve technicians must be considered to boost the lagging adoption.

“Pharmacy technicians have a higher accuracy rate when performing such activities,” Sasser said. “It’s a skill that pharmacy technicians have because they deal with this every day, but not a skill that requires clinical judgement.”

In terms of immunizations, pharmacy technicians are expected to administer vaccinations after pharmacists provide patient screening, counseling, and vaccine verification. According to Sasser, the increasing demand for clinical services, especially vaccinations from community pharmacists, has created unforeseen workflow problems. Therefore, the physical act of administering a vaccine does not require clinical judgement, and the appropriate training and credentialing of a pharmacy technician can further help improve the public health.

Pharmacy technicians prepare 37% of vaccines for pharmacist administration, yet as of March 2020, only Idaho, Rhode Island, and the federal pharmacy system (such as the Indian Health Services) permit technicians to administer vaccines. Sasser emphasized the positive outcomes for technicians being able to take on vaccination duties, since it will not provide more convenient access for patients but will increase vaccinations for patients who do not have a physician and who would otherwise not get vaccinated.

Sasser expects the pharmacy to have an even greater impact in reducing preventable diseases for those who do not routinely see a medical provider as technician-administered vaccinations increase.

REFERENCE
Sasser J. Advanced Career Options: MTM & Immunizations; July 16, 2020; Virtual. rxstudentsummit.com.