Pharmacy technicians are some of the most essential professionals in the healthcare services industries. But relatively few people are aware of what they do. They typically work alongside their more familiar counterparts –pharmacists– and perform a wide range of tasks unique to their position. Like pharmacists, pharmacy technicians work in many different settings. They may work in retail or hospital pharmacies, long-term healthcare facilities, or in pharmaceutical firms. In many cases, pharmacy technicians serve as the first point of contact with customers, which may include patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. Pharmacy technicians generally perform roles and responsibilities that do not require the expertise of a licensed pharmacist.
Primary Tasks and Responsibilities
Depending on where you choose to work, it may not be necessary for you to go through a formal training program in order to become a licensed pharmacy technician. In some states, the only requirement for licensure is on-the-job training. Nevertheless, you will need to have a background in math and computers, as well as interpersonal and other skills.
As a pharmacy technician, you will be expected to greet customers and fill their prescriptions. You will also be responsible for verifying the completeness and accuracy of the information provided. The position involves a variety of administrative tasks as well. You will likely be asked to maintain patient profiles, process insurance forms, and manage records. Other tasks involve the maintenance and upkeep of the pharmacy premises and its inventory. From labeling medications and filling bottles to ensuring that pharmaceutical products are stored securely and safely, all these tasks and more are typically assigned to pharmacy technicians.
If you’re thinking about becoming a pharmacy technician, you probably wonder what a typical day is like for someone in this role. Here’s a closer look at the many tasks a pharmacy technician will usually perform on a daily basis. While the responsibilities of pharmacy technicians will vary based on where you gain employment, there are several standard duties that most pharmacy technicians will carry out whether they are working in a hospital, drug store, or retail pharmacy.
While the responsibilities of pharmacy technicians will vary based on where you gain employment, there are several standard duties that most pharmacy technicians will carry out whether they are working in a hospital, drug store, or retail pharmacy.
Most prescriptions are now received via e-prescriptions in our digital-based society. While you may not need to be computer savvy, as a pharmacy technician, you will need to possess enough computer skills to retrieve prescriptions by way of computer software. Information technology has become an important part of many professions and many pharmacies now store both a patient’s prescription and prescription history electronically. Furthermore, many pharmacies use computer technology to manage their supplies so they know what drugs and the quantity of those drugs that they have on hand at all times. Sufficient inventory is vital in ensuring the needs of customers and patients are met.
In addition to receiving prescription orders, you will also need to check customers’ insurance eligibility and coverage before they are given their prescription. Prescriptions in digital format are likely to have the patient’s information, but when a customer presents a written prescription, it is the role of the technician to confirm that the information is correct and up to date. You should verify that the patient’s name is spelled correctly and confirm the patient’s date of birth along with any known allergies. In addition, you should verify that the pharmacy has their current address, phone number, and insurance information on file.
Submit Insurance Claims
Once a technician confirms the prescription information is correct, they must then submit it to the insurance for payment. In the same way most pharmacies receive prescriptions, insurance claims are submitted for payment via the same method…electronically. Fortunately, technology does allow prescriptions to be processed electronically, allowing the prescription to be processed rapidly. In the event the insurance denies the claim, the pharmacy technician is then in a position to play detective. Reviewing the submission for clerical errors is one place to start your detective work. Another possible reason for a claim to be denied is that the medication is a refill medication and it’s not time for the script to be filled again. There are various reasons for a denial and sometimes it may require you to call the insurance to get a clear explanation.
Dispensing medication is more than just counting pills and slapping a label on a bottle. The process begins when the pharmacist begins translating the medication, reviews for drug interactions, duplication of therapy, and appropriate dose, ensuring the medication is both safe and appropriate. Once the prescription is cleared and passed on to a technician, it is the technician’s responsibility to verify that the doctor’s information is correct along with the medication dose, indications from the prescriber, and the quantity the script has been approved for.
Pharmacies are responsible for preparing creams, compounds and ointments, and pharmacy technicians working in a hospital setting may find themselves preparing intravenous products as part of their job responsibility. It is not uncommon for pharmacy technicians working in advanced settings to become specialized in a specific area, such as compounding.
In retail settings, pharmacy technicians can expect to regularly provide basic customer service to patients or customers. This could involve referring them to the pharmacist on duty or helping a customer locate an over-the-counter medication. Customer service skills are essential to being an employable pharmacy technician. Many times, patients need information relating to their insurance coverage and co-pays. Employers expect their technicians to be kind and to possess strong interpersonal skills to ensure a customer’s trip to the pharmacy and experience are as pleasant as possible.
Stock Supplies and Medication
As previously mentioned, sufficient inventory is vital in ensuring the needs of customers and patients are met. Nobody wants to go to the pharmacy only to discover the pharmacy does not have the medication they need. Managing inventory is a job responsibility that lands on the shoulders of most pharmacy technicians. Without an adequate stock of supplies and medications, a pharmacy simply cannot serve the needs of its patients. In addition to having adequate supplies, the goal of inventory management is to help keep medication costs at a minimum. Again, job duties may vary based on where you are employed, but most technicians are involved in the ordering and restocking process of inventory management.
Managing inventory also includes checking stock to remove expired medications. Technicians are responsible for processing outdated medications for return to prevent potentially dangerous situations. The specific procedure will depend on the policies and procedures of the pharmacy they are employed by. This is generally done once a month to prevent profit loss since most warehouses and wholesalers only accept outdated products for credit if they are returned within a certain timeframe. Once the items are pulled from inventory, the technician must compile a list of all the expired products, including the name, strength, quantity, and dosage. A request for a return approval is then sent to the wholesaler, and if approved, the technician will then package and prepare the return for shipment. In addition, to the previously mentioned job responsibilities in inventory management, pharmacy technicians may find they are responsible for the return of overstock items, damaged products, and recalls as well.
Obtain Prescription Approval
Lastly, a pharmacy technician has the responsibility of making sure that all prescriptions are reviewed and approved by the pharmacist on duty. It is the law that no prescription can be sold until it is examined for possible drug interactions and accuracy. This is for patient safety and serves as a second line of protection. Due to privacy regulations, when a prescription is completed, it is critical that all patient information be carefully stored or disposed of. Many technicians are responsible to carry out this job duty as well.
You’re going to stay very busy as a pharmacy technician. Ideally, you will obtain a license as a pharmacy technician to show employers that you are passionate about your work. A license also shows that you are devoted to providing the best care possible to patients. Many employers will not hire a pharmacy technician unless they have license or certification. Because there are so many job duties for those in this role, it is recommended to earn your license as soon as possible. This will help ensure you are up to date with the latest tools and knowledge that can equip you to become the best pharmacy technician you can possibly be.