As the role of pharmacists moves into a new phase as prescribers and in providing daily consults, the role of the pharmacy technician is expanding as well.

The Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining board has recently announced changes to their rules following advocacy efforts from the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, heralding a new era of pharmacist-provided health and wellness services. Pharmacists will play a greater role in the health care continuum, including delegation, counseling patients, providing vaccinations, screening for illnesses such as flu and strep throat, and managing chronic conditions.1

Meanwhile, the emphasis on patient-focused care allows for pharmacy technicians to shift toward duties such as product verification and medication history, in states like Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

Currently, pharmacy technicians are tasked with receiving prescription requests from patients and physicians’ offices, accurately measuring medication amounts, packaging and labeling prescriptions, establishing and maintaining patient records, accepting payment for prescriptions, processing insurance claims, and managing inventory. The National HealthCareer Association (NHA) is responsible for certifying allied health care professionals, which include pharmacy technician certification (CPhT) via the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT)2

“The work that is done through the pharmacist needs to be done but also there needs to be these expansions of services and that is only possible if you elevate the practices of pharmacists—you do the same for pharmacy technicians at the same time,” said Jeremy Sasser, pharmacy content strategist at the NHA, in an interview with Pharmacy Times®.3

New Hampshire’s Board of Pharmacy has put together a task force to draft proposed language to the board of pharmacy detailing requirements for a new designation of pharmacy technician, a Licensed Advanced Pharmacy Technician (LAPT).

Sasser explained that after having passed legislation to create the advanced level of pharmacy technician, New Hampshire is currently in the process of defining their roles and requirements and to make recommendations to the board of pharmacy surrounding education, work experience, and more. He explained that pharmacy technicians may potentially take the same Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination that pharmacists take, as well as a potential knowledge-based exam.3

“In doing that, additional accountability will be placed on the pharmacy technicians for the work they do. Oftentimes, when there is an effort to try to expand the practice of pharmacy technicians, there are pharmacists that get worried that it’s their professional license on the line if these technicians who are doing these tasks make mistakes. So, they’re thinking to really put more of that professional liability on those who become (LAPTs) rather than the pharmacists,” Sasser said to Pharmacy Times®.3

Previous research has shown that when managers, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians implement the Optimizing Care Model and corresponding task delegation of final product verification to pharmacy technicians, patient care delivery is overall enhanced. Additional positive impacts are found in organizational and individual level outcomes, including quality of work life, engagement, and commitment.4

“One of the stipulations to having a pharmacy employ one of these LAPTs is to also show the board that their pharmacy is providing additional patient care services as a result of having that pharmacy technician, because that’s what the intent is. To get the pharmacist to provide more direct consultative services, which oftentimes means giving them limited prescriptive authority that follow established guidelines chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, etc,” said Sasser.3

NHA is helping to aid in expanding the role of pharmacy technicians not only through its certification and training resources but also through advocacy. NHA works with many state pharmacy boards to be a part of their processes and advocates as much as possible for the technicianprofession.3 

I think slowly but steadily, everyone is realizing the value of having pharmacists be able to perform these services, so it’s not such a burden on primary care physicians and patients don’t feel like they have to go to a hospital for these services. As that continues to go on, there is no choice but to elevate pharmacy technician roles so they can continue to fill the same volumes of prescriptions, while pharmacists are providing more direct patient care services. It’s not just product verification, tasks such as taking new prescriptions over the phone, transferring prescriptions, and obtaining accurate medication histories are other advanced tasks pharmacy technicians can be trained to do, so long as boards of pharmacy permit them to do so. The breadth of knowledge that technicians have allow for pharmacists to provide more clinical services, while still filling and dispensing prescriptions,” Sasser said to Pharmacy Times®.3

References
  1. Optimizing Patient Care in Pharmacies is Focus of New Rule Backed by PSW, NACDS [news release] Madison, WI. NACDS website. Published March 5, 2020. https://www.nacds.org/news/optimizing-patient-care-in-pharmacies-is-focus-of-new-rule-backed-by-psw-nacds/. Accessed March 18, 2020.
  2. Pharmacy Technician Certification. NHA website. https://www.nhanow.com/certifications/pharmacy-technician. Accessed March 18, 2020.
  3. Interview with Jeremy Sasser. Pharmacy Times. March 12, 2020.
  4. Hohmeir, K, Desselle, S, et al. Exploring the implementation of a novel optimizing care model in the community pharmacy setting. JAPhA website. May-June, 2019. Vol. 59, Issue 2, pgs 310-318. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.japh.2019.02.006. Accessed March 19, 2020.