The Importance of Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy technicians are critical members of the healthcare team and are essential to providing patients with safe and effective medication therapy. A Hawthorne pharmacy technician works closely with our pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to ensure our patient's health.

"The key to a successful pharmacy is a strong technician team. Our technicians perform almost every task in the pharmacy other than the final check of each prescription and a handful of other things. We wouldn't be able to provide the services we offer without our skilled, hard-working technicians."

— Phil Gardner, PharmD, Hawthorne Camden Pharmacy

Pharmacy technicians play an important role within the pharmacy setting and assist pharmacists in preparing and dispensing patient medications. These professionals have several important duties they must perform regularly, including typing up prescription information for drug labels, authorizing prescription refills, and organizing the drug inventory in the pharmacy.

Pharmacy Technician Responsibilities

These are just some important ways pharmacy technicians play an integral role in the pharmacy.

1. Preparing patient prescriptions

A primary duty that pharmacy technicians are responsible for is preparing prescriptions for patients. This goes far beyond simply counting pills or placing labels on pill bottles. While this is certainly part of their duties, preparing prescriptions also entails preparing compounded supplements and prescriptions, creams, and ointments for patients.

2. Receive prescription requests

Another duty most pharmacy technicians are responsible for is receiving the prescription and refill requests. These request most commonly come from a doctor's office and are assigned to a particular patient. The pharmacy technician must verify that all the information is correct on the electronic or written prescription and enter this information into the pharmacy database. If there are any discrepancies, the pharmacy technician must call the doctor and/or patient to verify the provided information and ensure it's accurate before the prescription can be filled.

3. Pricing prescriptions

Pharmacy technicians are also often tasked with pricing prescriptions. This may include researching how much a particular prescription is, running the prescription through a patient's insurance to see if there are any adjustments or discounts, and processing other discounts a patient may have.

4. Determining potential drug interactions

Assessing and understanding potential drug interactions is an important part of a pharmacy technician's job. The more medications a patient is on, the higher the potential is for a drug interaction. Some drug interactions can be serious or even life-threatening, so maintaining accurate patient medication records and checking drug interactions when dispensing medications is imperative to informing and protecting patients.

5. Interacting with patients

Pharmacy technicians regularly interact with patients throughout the course of their day. Common ways in which pharmacy techs work with patients include:

  • Answering prescription-related questions
  • Helping patients purchase their prescriptions
  • Answering the pharmacy phone
  • Helping patients locate over-the-counter medications
  • Referring patients to the pharmacist for more in-depth medical questions related to prescriptions

Because these professionals play a client-facing role, they must have strong customer service skills. 

6. Managing pharmacy inventory

Managing the inventory in the pharmacy is another key responsibility of pharmacy technicians. Keeping track of the pharmacy inventory includes assessing the availability of medications in the pharmacy, placing orders for medications that are running low, and ordering specialty medications when needed for patients. It also includes looking for expired medications and removing them and performing counts for specific medications such as controlled substances.

7. Processing medical insurance claims for medications

Pharmacy technicians are often charged with the responsibility of processing insurance claims for medical insurance when patients choose to use insurance for their prescriptions. This can include determining the patient's insurance company and information, calling the insurance company to verify coverage, running the medication through the patient's insurance, and updating the insurance coverage in the pharmacy system.

8. Ensuring medications are properly stored

Prescriptions must be stored properly to ensure safety and quality standards. Some prescriptions require special storage, such as in a temperature-controlled environment. Other prescriptions must be stored in a safe place that is locked so that only authorized individuals can assess the medications. Pharmacy technicians are responsible for ensuring the proper storage of all medications and performing regular checks to make sure storage requirements are maintained.

9. Packaging and labeling pill and prescription bottles

Another important component of a pharmacy technician's job is accurately labeling and packaging prescription bottles and containers. This often involves typing up the correct information and instructions on the label, printing it out, and securing it onto the appropriate bottle or container.

10. Training new pharmacy staff

More experienced pharmacy technicians may have the responsibility of training new pharmacy staff such as new technicians or assistants. This can include teaching new employees how to process insurance claims, label medications, assemble and store medications, order supplies, and prescriptions and interact with customers. 

11. Taking part in administrative tasks

Pharmacy technicians often participate in several administrative tasks that support the overall function of the pharmacy. These tasks may include stocking inventory shelves, keeping patient profiles up-to-date, answering telephone calls, cleaning pharmacy equipment, and maintaining other pharmacy-related records. Another component of a pharmacy technician's administrative tasks may be providing information to appropriate parties regarding medication.

Since the pharmacy technicians know the ins and outs of a pharmacy, the managers and pharmacists will usually look to them for suggestions on improving efficiency, boosting patient care, and more. More so now, pharmacy techs have the ability to provide valuable feedback that can affect day-to-day operations.

A Growing Profession

Almost 45 percent of Americans take prescription medication, so the need for technicians and pharmacists is higher than ever. As the population ages, the demand for such healthcare professionals will rise as well. With the rise of technology and advancements in almost every single part of life, the pharmaceutical industry has experienced change. Today, a pharmacy technician is almost as important as a pharmacist themselves.  In upcoming years, as more and more things advance, a pharmacy technician’s role is likely to expand in terms of professional training and education, increased salaries, and more opportunities in certain aspects of patient care.

All pharmacy technicians need at least a high school degree or equivalent. At Hawthorne Pharmacy, our pharmacy technicians have the opportunity to get nationally certified through on-the-job training. This allows our technicians hands-on experience within the profession but gives them the advantage to advance their careers while working.

Although the role of pharmacy technicians has certainly changed and developed, it is a worthwhile career in the healthcare industry. Are you interested in learning about our pharmacy technician opportunities? Take the first step in the right direction towards a fulfilling career with Hawthorne Pharmacy. Learn more about our Pharmacy Technician positions »

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