Pharmacy techs have long been a crucial part of pharmacy operations. But with the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have become more important than ever. The role of pharmacy technicians has continued to expand throughout the pandemic.
From handling patients to administering injections such as the COVID vaccine, pharmacy techs are vital.
What can pharmacy technicians expect in the future?
Even once the pandemic has settled down, pharmacy technicians can expect the role to evolve. As healthcare moves forward into a more patient-centered territory, pharmacy techs will continue to play an important role as healthcare professionals.
In Ontario, pharmacy technicians are then required to register with the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP).
The program covers a wide variety of skills, including:
- Patient interaction and communication with healthcare providers.
- Assisting with overall pharmacy services and patient care.
- The preparation and dispensing of medications.
- Inventory management, which includes ordering, receipt and management of stock.
As healthcare moves into a more patient-centered model, education will continue to be vital to the role. However, there are also several soft skills that pharmacy techs should have to succeed.
Some of the most important, other than technical knowledge, include:
- Communication skills.
- Customer service skills.
- Attention to detail.
- Mathematical skills.
- An ability to multitask.
- A love of innovation.
Aside from these, there are several other soft skills pharmacy techs should cultivate.
Good communication skills are crucial for the pharmacy tech role. A great deal of the job involves taking prescription orders, both in-person and over the phone.
Strong communication is essential for collecting accurate information from patients. Pharmacy techs act as liaisons between customers and pharmacists.
Aside from these, they also communicate with prescribing healthcare providers.
Customer Service Skills
The fact that pharmacy technicians take in most scripts also means they must be great with patients. This is why strong customer service skills are essential for pharmacy technicians!
Communication is key to customer service.
In a review of over 100 5-star customer reviews, the words used most often to describe staff were:
When interacting with customers, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s about more than just meds.
Patients want to feel valued, and assured that their health is important. Nobody wants to feel like a number, especially when ill or facing a health crisis.
A Penchant for Detail
It goes without saying that filling prescriptions requires care and accuracy. Any missteps when dealing with meds can do serious damage to a patient’s health, or even cause death.
Pharmacy techs are often responsible for measuring and counting meds to fill scripts. They may also compound medications; then there is the labelling and packaging.
To avoid mistakes, pharmacy techs must be capable of paying close attention to detail.
Being able to weigh and measure medication is an essential part of the pharmacy tech role. Techs use math often, and algebra is key. It’s also important to be able to calculate fractions and ratios.
Another important place that math comes into the job is in compounding prescriptions. You’ll need to know how to perform calculations on how much of each ingredient to use.
Pharmacy techs often need to convert between different systems of weights and measures. The Apothecaries’ system is an example; while no longer used as much as it was, it’s still standard knowledge.
Being able to convert between Apothecaries’ and the metric system is important. An understanding of basic accounting is also necessary for inventory handling and transactions.
Math is a basic and often-used skill for a pharmacy technician. Being able to perform calculations with speed and accuracy is key!
An Ability to Multitask
As anyone who has worked in a pharmacy can tell you, it’s fast-paced. That’s why it’s important for pharmacy techs to be able to multitask with efficiency.
For example, you may be on the phone checking in with a healthcare provider when a patient comes in. Being able to perform more than one task at a time will help you keep up in what can often be a hectic environment.
From managing patient lineups to filling scripts, calling insurance companies and HCPs to taking calls, it’s all on you.
Being able to multitask is vital to the role.
Pharmacies use a variety of different types of software in their day-to-day operations. Pharmacy softwares manage everything from billing to managing prescriptions.
It’s important for pharmacy technicians to have a basic understanding of computers. Along with these skills, it’s also vital to be able to learn new software programs.
A Love of Innovation
Our healthcare landscape is changing so fast, and innovation is at the heart of it. Over the past several years there have been big changes in pharmacy.
From changes in narcotics inventory regulations to COVID-19 restrictions, the industry has gone through numerous changes. One of the most positive changes has been the tendency toward more patient-centered systems of care.
Given the changing landscape, pharmacies that don’t innovate and evolve are less profitable.
The ability to find and suggest innovations is a valuable skill for pharmacy technicians. Being able to offer insight into potential improvements is important.
Understanding the pulse of the industry and being able to communicate the benefits of change is key.
For example, prescription delivery is a vastly under-utilized tool for pharmacy business growth. An ability to understand why this is so and optimize a customer-oriented system will contribute to pharmacy growth.
Software such as iApotheca’s EconoRoute™ Prescription Delivery Software can help you manage patient prescription deliveries quickly and efficiently, and push your pharmacy towards success.
Other key areas for innovation could include streamlining clunky systems within the pharmacy. As well, areas such as pharmacy marketing, patient experience, and new front shop products are also important to take into consideration for innovation.
As the world of pharmacy continues to evolve, the pharmacy technician’s role evolves along with it.