Expert: Best Community Pharmacy Practices "Floated to the Top" During COVID-19 Pandemic

Carlie Traylor, PharmD, director of Strategic Initiatives and Student Affairs at NCPA discussed the growing roles of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and how COVID-19 has changed the landscape of services offered in community pharmacies.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times® at the National Community Pharmacists Association Annual Convention, Carlie Traylor, director of Strategic Initiatives and Student Affairs at NCPA, discussed the growing roles of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and how COVID-19 has changed the landscape of services offered in community pharmacies.

Q: What are some key takeaways from the NCPA Innovation Center/CPESN Community Pharmacy Fellowship?

Carlie Traylor: Some key takeaways for the Innovation Center and the Community Pharmacy Fellowship is that our job is your success. We're trying to meet members where they're at and provide them with the resources and support they need to thrive. I like to use that phrase grow where you're planted. The fellowship program really does that where it creates a yearlong program that has the structure, the support, the accountability, in addition to all the expertise that you would need to be a success.

Q: How is point of care testing growing, and how can pharmacies best utilize it?

Carlie Traylor: Point-of-care testing has been around for decades in community pharmacy, but it became absolutely vital during the COVID pandemic. For example, in our very first class, we had a pharmacy that you have to choose a capstone project. Their capstone project was already chosen. They called me in a panic in November asking if they could switch to point-of-care testing. Absolutely. The capstone project is meant to help the pharmacy. That pharmacist now funds her entire position through the revenue generated from that project. So that testify as to not only the value, but the reimbursement potential for that service.

Q: How can pharmacies improve workflow to help take the burden off of pharmacists?

Carlie Traylor: So I will quote, The Great Travis Wolf, so owner in Oklahoma, he likes to say when's the last time you went to the doctor's office and they were the ones that took your weight? Right. When you go to a pharmacy, you need to be that efficient. Pharmacists are the most community pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers, and we should remain that, but we should also have structure. Absolutely utilizing all of your different team members. I'm going to throw out something that I learned through the fellowship and our faculty members is actually collaborating with industrial engineers, specifically industrial engineering students because they're all required to have a capstone project, and pharmacy is absolutely perfect for that for analyzing workflow and you'll be shocked at the impact moving a bookcase 2 feet to the right can do.

Q: What are the pharmacy technicians' roles in pharmacy services as pharmacies continue to expand?

Carlie Traylor: Pharmacy technicians are absolutely vital as we expand these community services. The reason being as pharmacists become more educated and have more expanded roles, they need their technicians to do the same. I have story after story of how technicians have been interventionist. I just spoke with 1 recently, where I gave her a project that I had learned about that reimburse the pharmacy $200 per patient that was identified for diabetes prevention program. Within 2 hours, she had identified 3 patients. I never had to work with a pharmacist to make that happen in that pharmacy earn $700 by the efforts of that technician connecting patients to services that they needed.

Q: How has COVID-19 changed the landscape for services offered within a community pharmacy, and do you think that these changes in services are here to stay post-pandemic?

Carlie Traylor: The COVID pandemic was trial by fire, and what I saw is that the best practices floated to the top. We've had adherence packaging, we've had delivery services, we've been advocating for pharmacies to do that. If you weren't doing them before the pandemic, you are absolutely doing them now, and while I don't think it necessarily expanded the number of services, I think those services existed, it increased the impact and the number of pharmacies participating. I am so grateful to be a part of a profession that was so on the frontline in supporting during the pandemic. I'm so proud of our members.