Technicians can also greatly assist managers with design considerations and with monitoring the success in appointment-based model med sync programs.
There is growing recognition of the benefits of medication synchronization (med sync) programs, particularly as a larger population of older patients live with multiple comorbidities and are prescribed complex therapeutic regimens. Med sync is the alignment of a patient’s medication refills to a single date each month. Other features can be added in conjunction, such as comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs) and home delivery.
Community pharmacies have incorporated med sync into their workflow to improve quality of care and medication adherence. The appointment-based model (ABM), one type of med sync, is one where patients have 1 or 2 appointed days per month to pick up all medications, and the pharmacist performs additional services to evaluate therapy, promote adherence, and address patient inquiries or concerns. Given the demands on pharmacist time, new service implementation is frequently met with barriers, and optimal use of pharmacy personnel can help launch and sustain a program like med sync on an ABM.
Researcher Chelsea Renfro, PharmD, and her colleagues explored pharmacy technician roles in the implementation of such a program.1 They conducted semi-structured interviews of technicians in Mississippi and Tennessee working in 6 different locations of a supermarket chain pharmacy. Findings suggest that hands-on experience with program software is needed during training to successfully implement ABM.1
A barrier to implementation was the time needed to complete ABM tasks as opposed to other tasks. However, the technicians believed that the program was still beneficial, that they appreciate the opportunity to participate, and whose barriers can be overcome with proper planning and foresight. Some things to consider that the technicians provided insight on were: (1) Access to knowledge and information (further education/training and digestible information on how to incorporate the med sync ABM tasks with other tasks; (2) Relative priority (making clear the priority of med sync tasks compared with other tasks; (3) Patient needs and resources (the extent to which the needs of those served by the program are accurately known, as older patients were somewhat confused by the process); and (4) Adaptability (the degree to which the program can be adapted, tailored, refined, or reinvented to meet local needs, such as in the midst of constantly changing prescription regimens).1
The study highlights several issues. It describes the need for planning and foresight; it offers the premise that job redesign that is adequately communicated can benefit the organization tremendously; it points out that pharmacy can help meet an unmet patient need. Finally, it reveals that pharmacy staff members such as technicians can be deployed to help fulfill more direct patient services, but these employees can also greatly assist managers with design considerations and with monitoring the success in ABM med sync programs.2
Additional information about Pharmacy Technicians and Implementing Value-Added Pharmacist Services can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.
About the Author
Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at the Touro University California College of Pharmacy.
1. Renfro C, Coulter D, Ly L, Fisher C, et al. Exploring pharmacy technician roles in the implementation of an appointment-based medication synchronization program. Pharmacy. 8(1). https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy8010028.
2. Adams AJ, Desselle SP, McKeirnan KC. Pharmacy technician-administered vaccines: on perceptions and practice reality. Pharmacy. 6(4): 124. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy6040124