The impact and utilization of clinical pharmacists for more patient-centered tasks is on the forefront of national legislation and pharmacy leaders, with many advantages:
- Increased accessibility to clinical professionals
- Enhanced engagement with patients to help with chronic disease management
- Comprehensive medication management (CMM)
- Improved medication-related outcomes
- Recognition and reimbursement for expanded services provided
However, in order to reap these benefits, the inclusion and expansion of support personnel—namely, pharmacy technicians—must become the norm within pharmacies. There's no denying that the role of the pharmacy technician is evolving.
But how do we get around the current industry barriers such as pharmacist trust and delegation, along with the diverse opinions amongst practitioners and boards of pharmacy?
The American College of Clinical Pharmacy released a white paper that goes in-depth into the five best practices to engage pharmacy support personnel in work that extends beyond traditional dispensing functions to optimize clinical pharmacy services. We've outlined them below and provided some additional insights to give you a quick look at how pharmacy technicians, when empowered to work at the top of their credentials, can help your practice achieve the best results.
1. Identify the appropriate support personnel to assist with clinical pharmacy tasks on the basis of skills
Specialized skills training along with experience should be top of mind when selecting the right individual to elevate within the pharmacy. After determining which specialized skills are most valuable in your pharmacy, evaluate your support staff based on both their technical skills and also soft skills that can help them be successful when taking on new responsibilities. Some of these skills include critical thinking, time management, empathy, professionalism and teamwork.
2. Ensure that support personnel (such as pharmacy technicians) are adequately trained and certified
Formal and informal training may be used to elevate the necessary skill level of pharmacy technicians, along with supporting nationally-accredited certification as a minimum standard to ensure job responsibilities are done appropriately and reduce calculation errors. Consider the amount of training time your technicians need to perform the job duties. Pharmacies with documented success allocate four months for technician development and utilize certified technicians.
Upon achieving their CPhT credentials, your technicians will have more confidence in their abilities and you’ll be able to trust that they have at the knowledge and skill to do the job.
3. Incorporate support personnel into appropriate components of the process of care to expand the reach and depth of clinical pharmacy services
A patient-centered care approach capitalizes on the expertise of multiple members of the care team. The pharmacy technician is a vital team member and can assist with many functions within the clinical pharmacist process of care. For example, virtually all component of clinical care require collection of information and documentation. These tasks are critically important but also time consuming. Delegating this responsibility can improve clinical processes for both the pharmacy team and the patient.
4. Incorporate support personnel into ancillary processes that support clinical pharmacy services
Technicians can play a role in accreditation, quality improvement, and practice management activities. Here are just a few examples of where technicians can play a role in ancillary processes:
- Billing and coding
- Obtaining prior authorizations
- Assisting with financial assessments
- Coordinating case management activities
- Facilitating refill and medication delivery
- Collecting information and documenting in the electronic medical record
- Assisting with adherence monitoring
- Running monthly reports on drug use patterns
5. Conduct and disseminate research on the utility and outcomes achieved using support personnel in the clinical pharmacist’s process of care
There’s a need for research that will help us understand how to best utilize technicians. Sharing best practices and research is important to advance and elevate the role of pharmacy technicians and other support staff. Case studies can also be a useful tool to help understand where technicians can make an impact.
We are committed to elevating and advancing healthcare professionals such as the pharmacy technician. As pharmacies across the country look to expand their reach and service offerings, it's more important than ever that pharmacy technicians have the right knowledge and skills to take on elevated tasks.
You can be assured that we are keeping up with demands and trends. At NHA, we are constantly updating and creating new solutions—such as two of our newest products: PharmaSeer™ and PharmaSeer Math™—to support you and your care team as you work to improve, expand, and provide even better services and care to your patients.