Integrating Pharmacy Technicians into the Dispensing Workflow

As more and more pharmacists embrace their expanded role they are discovering that changes to their current workflow may be required in order to maximize the time necessary for them to focus on the delivery of these clinical services.

Integrating a registered pharmacy technician into practice offers a viable solution, particularly when maximizing the technician’s scope. In order to do this however we must clearly understand what a pharmacy technician can do under their own authority as a regulated health care professional.

In general terms the division of responsibilities can be defined as:

  • TECHNICIANS are accountable and responsible for the technical aspects of both new and refill prescriptions, (i.e. the correct patient, drug dosage form/route, dose, doctor) and;
  • PHARMACISTS remain accountable and responsible for the therapeutic/clinical appropriateness of all new and refill prescriptions and all therapeutic consultation.

Each completed prescription must contain the signature, or some other identifying mechanism, of both the technician (for the technical functions) and the pharmacist (for the therapeutic functions).

Pharmacy technicians are also permitted to accept verbal prescriptions (with the exception of narcotics, controlled drugs, benzodiazepines and targeted substances) and provide prescription transfers.

While the objective of integration is to optimize the role of the technician and pharmacist, workflow will be dependent on a number of individual variables: physical layout, resources/staffing, patient population/characteristics etc. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and it is understood that pharmacies may face a number of barriers.

The College’s initial requirement to have an ‘independent double check’, as an example, may have been a barrier to the integration of technicians in some practice settings. The introduction of the Standards of Practice for technicians however allowed for more flexibility, positioning the ‘independent double check’ as a best practice rather than a requirement.

Standards stipulate that whenever possible, a final check should be performed by a pharmacy technician (or a pharmacist) who did not enter the prescription into the pharmacy software system or who did not select the drug from stock. However, if another member of the team is not available, all technical aspects, including the final check, can be completed by the same technician.

Remembering of course that a prescription cannot be released to the patient until a pharmacist has performed the therapeutic check.

Clearly understanding technician’s scope of practice and standards of practice is a key step in identifying the best way to integrate these valuable members of the health care team into your pharmacy practice.

Defining Each Role

A pharmacy technician can ensure that this bottle contains 100 tablets of drug ‘x’, and that the information on the label including: name of patient, prescriber, drug and directions are correct, as per the prescription.

The pharmacist must have assessed the patient and authorized that drug ‘x’ is the appropriate medication to take, and counselled the patient on how to take it.

Watch this video to learn how to integrate pharmacy technicians into the workflow of a community pharmacy: