Novel and Expanded Role for the Pharmacy Technician

A CMS Health Care Innovations Award – funded care transitions program known as SafeMed has the goal of reducing hospital readmissions and overall healthcare cost through the optimization of drug therapy. In particular they focus on adherence to drug therapy in addition to the efficiency of the drug regimens being undertaken by patients who are taking multiple chronic conditions – much like what we would expect in a patient who is eligible for MTM services.

Hospital readmissions are common in these patients who have an abrupt transition from extensive medical oversight to being unmonitored in their homes. Here, SafeMed decided to expand the role of their pharmacy technicians having them follow up with these patients by giving the patients phone calls after they return home from their hospital stays. These technicians were put through a training program with teachings provided by a pharmacist with expertise in MTM and through their basic understanding of MTM services they were appointed to a role of identification of some drug therapy problems. The idea here is not to have a technician assume the role of a pharmacist but rather be a less expensive extra set of eyes which could help draw attention to problems that could then be more promptly resolved by the pharmacist.

More time would be needed to draw conclusions about the clinical outcomes surrounding this program. However, an increase in DTP pharmacist interventions did result from this method which intuitively should result in more effective outpatient treatment and less hospital readmissions resulting in less medical expenses, a parameter which is to be measured in follow up studying of this method. In addition, they aim to improve the education of these technicians which can provide a very useful arm for the pharmacists helping them spot the patients who could use their expertise most.

Reference

Bailey J. SafeMed: using pharmacy technicians in a novel role as community health workers to improve transitions of care.” J Am Pharm Assoc. 2016; 56(1): 73-81.

J Am Pharm Assoc. 2016; 56(1): 73-81

3 thoughts on “Novel and Expanded Role for the Pharmacy Technician”

  1. I really like the idea behind this article, using technicians to follow adherence patterns with patients that were recently released from in-patient settings. However, it does raise some questions. For instance, when does the pharmacist get involved once a DTP has been identified, and what responsibilities will the technician have in helping resolve any issues discovered. Also, if pharmacists still lack ability to bill for MTM in most systems, where would billing be applied if used by other pharmacies to follow-up their patients. I love this idea, but until there are better guidelines for pharmacists to perform MTM to more patients, this may be met with some resistance.

  2. This is a very interesting article and I believe it is a great idea. As a technician in a large inpatient pharmacy I saw many patients be abruptly discharged and then within a week or two return. I always thought to myself that there must be away to help this huge problem. Speaking from my experience in the hospital there was always many more technicians than pharmacist and I believe this a great way to utilize the people you have in the pharmacy. With good training I strongly believe that technicians could find some drug therapy problems and report them to the pharmacists for further evaluation. While thinking about this solution I also thought it might be a good idea for the inpatient technicians to call the outpatient technicians or pharmacist and give a report on the medications they are being discharged with, any new prescriptions, and what medications they were on during their stay. I think this would help to get everyone reading from the same sheet of music and help avoid some of the drug therapy problems that occur after discharge.

  3. I really enjoyed this article because not only are they working to transform the role of the pharmacist into a more patient-care centered role now they are also working to transform pharmacy altogether into much more than just dispensing medications. By having technicians follow the philosophy of pharmaceutical care too, pharmacy is truly on its way to a revolution. I’m excited for the entire pharmacy team to work together to change societies view of a “pharmacist” and for pharmacists to gain more respect in the medical field.

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