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Rural Health-Systems Benefit From Remote Pharmacy Technician Supervision

by Margo Fuerst | May 17, 2012

Leveraging technology to improve medication safety and access to patient care

WASHINGTON, DC - Telepharmacy is helping pharmacies extend services to more patients, improve medication safety, and alleviate staffing shortages experienced by many rural health care and emergency facilities across the United States. Telepharmacy allows for a pharmacy technician to be remotely supervised in real time by a pharmacist through state-of-the-art telecommunications technology to prepare prescriptions.   

"Telepharmacy expands patient access to pharmacy consultations and vital health care services in rural and medically underserved areas," said Everett McAllister, RPh, MPA, Executive Director and CEO of PTCB. "PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technicians play a significant role in this safe and cost-effective alternative, providing patients with maximum coverage."

The need for telepharmacy services is addressed in Joint Commission standards, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Model Practice Act, and by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. State Boards of Pharmacy (SBOP) in North Dakota, Montana, Illinois, South Dakota, Texas, Idaho, Utah, Kansas, and Hawaii have adopted telepharmacy regulations, while New York has pending regulations.

The Kansas State Board of Pharmacy, for example, recently adopted regulations allowing a Kansas-licensed pharmacist to electronically supervise one pharmacy technician or pharmacy student in a licensed pharmacy at a medical facility in the state. Remotely supervised pharmacy technicians in these facilities perform typical duties, such as reviewing cart fills and filling automated dispensing cabinets with an offsite pharmacist observing the procedures through a real-time audio, video, or computer connection.

The capacity in which a pharmacy technician may participate in a telepharmacy model differs from state to state, with some requiring registration with a SBOP, a minimum period of work experience, and/or certification through a board-approved program, such as PTCB.

"Pharmacy technicians who are appropriately trained and credentialed are being used in innovative practice models, which allows us to expand pharmacy services to underserved areas and enhance patient care throughout Montana,†said Ronald Klein, RPh, Executive Director of the Montana State Board of Pharmacy. “The use of pharmacy technicians allows the pharmacist to spend more time with the patient providing drug information, answering questions, and promoting compliance with the drug regimen. Certification provides the public and pharmacists with additional assurance and confidence in their pharmacy provider regardless of their proximity to the pharmacy."

For additional information on pharmacy technician licensure by state, please refer to the NABP 2012 Survey of Pharmacy Law. For additional information about PTCB, please visit www.ptcb.org.