Point-of-Care Testing Offers New Opportunities for Pharmacy Technicians

Commentary
Article
SupplementsOctober 2023 Pharmacy Technician Edition
Volume 7

Becoming experts in medical billing for point-of-care testing offers a new avenue for technicians to excel and show their value.

With the adoption of point-of-care testing (POCT) in community pharmacy, the scope of the pharmacy technician has expanded. Technicians can now perform various tests, such as rapid COVID-19 tests, cholesterol checks, blood pressure monitoring, and flu tests.

This expanded role allows technicians to take on new responsibilities and creates new opportunities for advancement and recognition. Many pharmacy technicians are involved in direct patient interactions regarding POCT, such as explaining their purpose, administering the tests, and collecting the results. The increased patient engagement can lead to a more fulfilling role for technicians, and this is also where the shift from a job to a career can begin to emerge. With increased job satisfaction comes increased job productivity.

Coronavirus point-of-care test

Image credit: Lisa - stock.adobe.com

In a study published in March 2020, Hunter Hill et al found that 91% of those who received a screening with pharmacy technician involvement agreed or strongly agreed that the service was valuable, and 70% reported that they were likely to follow up with their primary care providers to discuss the results.1 Furthermore, most patients were in agreement that they were overall satisfied with the screening services provided by a technician and said the technician was professional while performing the screening. This study provided preliminary data that technician-supported POCT may positively impact the number of screenings provided and patient satisfaction.1

Importantly, additional skills are required for technician-supported POCT, such as courses in proper sample collection, test administration, and instrument maintenance. This opportunity for continuous learning enhances professional development and further allows technicians to practice at the top of their licenses.

POCT can streamline the diagnostic process, leading to quicker and more efficient patient care, and pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in ensuring the timely execution of these tests in the pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians can gather the necessary information, perform the required tests, and collect the results for providers to ensure that care is given in a seamless, efficient, and convenient manner for patients.

In a 2021 study, investigators found that the majority of pharmacists (81%) agreed or strongly agreed that technician-performed POCT met their approval. Additionally, technician-led POCT met the approval of 85% of responding technicians in the study, and most pharmacy personnel (72%) said they believe that technician-driven POCT fills important gaps in patient care. Finally, 72% of respondents said that utilizing technicians for technical tasks is a suitable option to improve pharmacy workflow, while 77% said this is applicable at most practice sites.2

Pharmacy technicians work closely with the pharmacist in the implementation of POCT. This team-based approach allows the technician to learn from the pharmacists’ experience and helps build their confidence in advanced roles in the pharmacy. As technicians gain experience and expertise in POCT, they increase their opportunities for career advancement within the pharmacy or health care system.

Researchers Megan E. Keller et al confirmed that technicians can take on many roles in the pharmacy, including POCT.

“Pharmacy technicians are well suited to participate in functions in the pharmacy beyond simply supporting the dispensing process. Other auxiliary roles may help increase efficiency and ease workflow considerations in the pharmacy. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians may find it helpful to consider opportunities to implement POCT in an efficient manner, or revise current procedures to incorporate increased involvement of pharmacy technicians in the process,” they wrote.3

Technicians can also become expert medical billers for POCT, which is a crucial source of revenue for pharmacies. POCT testing is billed through medical insurance and is a new frontier in the pharmacy industry that technicians can quickly learn and excel in. As reimbursement from pharmacy benefit managers continues to decline, pharmacies must find a sustainable way to be profitable, and POCT offers a win-win for both the patient and the pharmacy.

The job market for pharmacy technicians continues to grow with the adoption of POCT and will continue to increase the demand for technicians with expertise in this area. This creates opportunities and job security for technicians. Pharmacy technicians are integral members of the health care team, and as POCT continues to evolve, pharmacy technicians will play an indispensable role in delivering high-quality patient care.

About the Author

Sirena Kalinski, CPhT, is a credentialing and administrative specialist at the Washington State Pharmacy Association.

References

1. Hill H, Cardosi L, Henson L, et al. Evaluating advanced pharmacy technician roles in the provision of point-of-care testing. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2020;60(4):e64-e69. doi:10.1016/j.japh.2020.02.024

2. Pope S, Hill H, Cardosi L, et al. Enhancing point-of-care testing through standardized training and redeployment of pharmacy technicians in the community setting. Explor Res Clin Soc Pharm. 2021;2:100034. doi:10.1016/j.rcsop.2021.100034

3. Keller ME, Kelling SE, Bright DR. Pharmacy technicians and point of care testing. J Pharm Technol. 2015;31(4):143-148. doi:10.1177/8755122515579106

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