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    Top 7 Challenges (and Opportunities) for Pharmacy in 2018

    What’s the difference between a challenge and an opportunity? In 2018, for pharmacy, they may be the same thing.


    Pharmacy techician checking inventory

    Pharmacy Technicians

    Many pharmacies could not survive without technicians. And as pharmacists focus more on direct patient care, well-trained technicians have the capabilities to assume new responsibilities.

    “Technicians are taking an ever-expanding role in almost every health care and pharmacy setting,” said Glen Gard, CPhT, Manager of Pharmacy Compliance for the home infusion provider Option Care. “Their roles include medication reconciliation, quality control and patient satisfaction, pharmacy compliance oversight, blood draws in anticoagulation clinics, medication therapy management, patient preadmission workups, and more traditional roles. As our pharmacists have become more integrated into clinical care, their other roles are being assumed by techs.”

    Related article: Standardization a Pressing Issue for Pharmacy Technicians

    For a preview of where technicians are headed, look to pharmacists. Just as the Board of Pharmacy Specialties is raising the bar for pharmacy specialists, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) unveiled a beta version of its first specialty certification in late 2017, the PTCB Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT) program.

    “Sterile compounding is a familiar role for technicians, but the CSPT certification is a new measure of competence,” said PTCB Executive Director and CEO William Schimmel. “We are looking at similarly common sets of knowledge and skills in community pharmacy and other areas.”

    Technician practice is advancing steadily at the state level, he added. Idaho recently became the first state to allow technicians to administer immunizations. Early results from Iowa’s community pharmacy tech-check-tech program shows a sharp decline in pharmacist time devoted to dispensing duties and a corresponding increase in direct patient care with no change in error rates.

    “More than 90% of Americans live within two miles of a pharmacy,” Schimmel said. “That is a huge opportunity to expand patient care. As pharmacists evolve their practice, technicians are ready to backfill the tasks they leave behind, as well as manage and lead pharmacy initiatives.”

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    Fred Gebhart, Contributing Editor
    Contributing Editor Fred Gebhart works all over the world as a freelance writer and editor, but his home base is in San Francisco.


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