Donald Klepser, PhD, MBA, professor and dean of academic affairs at the College of Pharmacy in the University of Nebraska Medical Center, discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the role of pharmacy technicians and what is expected as we move forward.
In an interview with Pharmacy Times®, Donald Klepser, PhD, MBA, professor and dean of academic affairs at the College of Pharmacy in the University of Nebraska Medical Center, discusses his session at the American Association of Pharmacy Tecnicians Annual Convention, regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the role of pharmacy technicians and what is expected as we move forward.
Q: In general, how has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the role of pharmacy technicians?
Don Klepser: It is really kind of increased the profile and the role of technicians. Some of this is related to the emergency health measures, and so what we've seen is a kind of an increase in the roles and responsibilities of technicians, and I think the 2 things that probably jumped to mind, first, are our immunizations, clearing the path that allows for technicians to do immunizations, under the supervision of a pharmacist, and then also probably related to point-of-care testing. Again, opening up the opportunities and clearing the path for technicians to be more involved in specimen collection and running the point-of-care tests.
Q: What can pharmacy technicians expect moving forward from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Don Klepser: My expectation is probably more of the same. I think, probably, formalizing and extending the privileges around immunization and around point-of-care testing, for sure. I think certainly even more responsibility in the dispensing activities, kind of strengthening some of the tech-check-tech type programs, the things reducing technician, or eliminating technician ratios all together. I see the technician moving to having a little bit more autonomy probably at least in the foreseeable future, still, we're under the oversight of a pharmacist, but they're really playing an even bigger role in the delivery of patient care.
Q: How have we seen pharmacy technicians take a more active role in pharmacies?
Don Klepser: I think some of the things that we've talked about the immunizations, the testing, stepping up being just being more involved. I think of the evolution over time, from when a technician was really just there to count by fives and put things into the bottle, and now I've seen that that role, expand. I think we would all there's no way pharmacy as it is practiced in America today would exist without pharmacy technicians.
Q: What are some opportunities for pharmacy technicians when it comes to billing and insurance?
Don Klepser: I'm not sure if it's a privilege or a punishment. I mean, right? these are some of the necessary things that are struggles for a lot of pharmacies, and certainly the role that that technicians can play, whether that means sitting on hold on a phone call, or I think, one of the better is to just take that part over in the pharmacy, become familiarized with all of the billing mechanisms, the coding, all of those things to help the pharmacy really maximize the revenue for the services that they're providing. Every pharmacy needs a resident expert, and I think that's a fantastic role for pharmacy technician.