What Is a Pharmacy Technician’s Responsibility?
Not everyone who works at a pharmacy is a pharmacist; there are also pharmacy technicians. They're often the friendly faces you see at the counter every time you drop by to pick up a prescription. This article will discuss everything you need to know about what a pharmacy technician is and their many different roles and responsibilities.
Let’s dive right in!
What Is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy technicians or pharm techs are valuable medical health professionals who work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. They also adhere to strict regulations by the healthcare system.
A pharmacy technician's role depends on the working environment. Aside from a community pharmacy, also known as a retail pharmacy or high-street pharmacy, they can also work in hospitals and veterinary pharmacies. Oftentimes, they can be employed in the manufacturing and sales departments of pharmaceutical companies. You’ll also find pharmacy technicians who work for different federal agencies, such as prisons, in the military, and other primary care or pharmacy organizations.
What sets them apart from pharmacy assistants is that they usually go through a specialized pharmacy technician certification or pharmacy technician training program about compounding, pharmacy automation, hazardous drug management, and health information systems to master their key responsibilities.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
A pharmacy technician’s responsibilities can be diverse, but they’re essentially a mix of administrative and customer service tasks to support clients and the pharmacist.
Here are some excellent examples:
1. Data Entry of Client Information
Pharmacy technicians are often in charge of entering and updating vital patient information into the database. When you go into a pharmacy, the pharmacy technician will ask if you’ve visited before. You’ll be requested to fill out a consent form, which allows the pharmacist to fill your prescription. Essential information such as your date of birth, weight, residential address, drug allergies, and other relevant data will be needed to help the pharmacist tailor your medication counsel.
2. Receiving and Confirming Prescription Orders
Whether it’s online, over the phone, or a walk-in, pharmacy technicians assist with prescription orders by obtaining and confirming client information through the database. It’s a detailed process that involves double-checking everything in the client’s prescription profile, including:
- Client information
- Doctor’s information
- Drug contraindications from the prescribing physician
- The quantity of the script
- Details of medical insurance coverage
- Whether the prescription meets legal requirements (date, drug, strength, instructions, and signature) or not
- Drug dosage safety based on the client’s age and weight
- Medication compatibility with the client’s current medical condition
- Possible negative interactions with other prescriptions that the client is currently taking
- The prescription’s potential to trigger any known allergies
The pharmacy system will cross-reference for possible adverse reactions, drug interactions, and other issues through the province’s drug information system. The pharmacy technician's job is to conduct a preliminary clinical and technical check, which will be reviewed and approved by the supervising pharmacist later on.
3. Preparing Prescriptions
Prescription drugs don't only come in tablet, pill, or capsule form. Some are required to be reconstituted or compounded from raw ingredients, such as various creams, ointments, and liquid medications. This is included in the long list of what pharmacy technicians do in a day.
In addition, pharmacy technicians who work in a hospital setting may also be tasked to prepare intravenous and sterile medications, such as Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) solutions, which play a pivotal role in patient safety and recovery.
When preparing prescriptions, pharmacy technicians are also in charge of the following:
- Selecting the appropriate drug, pharmaceutical brand, strength, form, and quantity, according to your doctor's prescription
- Reviewing expiry dates, drug warnings, and putting required safety labels and instructions for the client to use
- If you prefer taking your medication in liquid rather than capsule form or need a cheaper, generic brand as an alternative, then pharmacy technicians can help you with that as well, provided that there is an approval from a licensed pharmacist
Before dispensing the prescription to the client, pharmacy technicians will print out medical counselling documents with ample information about the medications.
4. Processing Payments and Insurance Claims
Most pharmacy technicians are involved in every step of fulfilling prescription orders, including processing payments and medical insurance claims. They are well-versed in specific coverage limitations by providers in terms of drug tiers, formulations, quantity limits, and prior authorization procedures.
A pharmacy technician often calls medical insurance companies, processes benefit claims, and provides updates to the client who is waiting in front of the counter. This role requires grace under pressure and handling challenging situations; particularly when informing patients of claim denials.
5. Managing Staff and Inventory of Medications and Supplies
Pharmacy technicians play an important role in making sure the pharmacy maintains a smooth and efficient operation. Depending on their level of seniority, they may be in charge of:
- Labelling prescriptions and other medical products
- Creating an organized system for customers and other staff to quickly find what they need
- Performing scheduled inventory checks regularly
- Checking for product expiration dates
- Requesting for replenishment of out-of-stock items
- Overseeing other pharmacy technicians and staff (if they hold supervisor roles)
6. Attending to Customer Needs and Questions
Pharmacy technicians are the frontline workers of the store. If customers are having trouble locating an over-the-counter medication or need to know which brand is better suited to them or more affordable, these professionals are always ready to help. However, pharmacy technicians are not authorized to give medical advice. They always have to refer these questions to the registered pharmacist on duty.
Let Our Friendly Pharmacy Technicians Help You
At The Boardwalk Pharmacy, we have a team of professional and friendly pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who are always ready to handle all your prescription needs.
To know more about what our pharmacy technicians can do for you, don't hesitate to contact us or visit our Kitchener-Waterloo location. Our team will be more than happy to assist you.