Pharmacy Technicians : The Past, Present and Future

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The history of Pharmacy Technicians is fascinating and may surprise you. Pharmacy Technicians have evolved from humble assistants into critical influential members of the pharmaceutical world. The Pharmacy Industry has transgressed into the business it is today through constant evolution, be that medications, therapies, patients, or insurance. Pharmaceutical had a rapid evolution the past few decades, alongside other medical practices.

The Past

pharmacy-technician-history-webIn the early days of pharmacy ranging from the early 19th century to as recent as the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Pharmacy Technicians were mainly seen as pharmacy assistants. The job title of a Pharmacy Technician does state that they are there to assist the pharmacist in their daily duties, but the position has immensely evolved from what it once was to what it is today.

In the beginning, pharmacists simply did not see the reason in paying an additional salary to an individual just for assistance when they felt they could do the position themselves. Many pharmacists owned their own pharmacy in the 1970’s, so in the past, not paying a salary was an acceptable business move because things were quite different in that time period.

There were fewer patients, nothing was electronically done, there was no insurance to bill, and there were fewer medications to remember. When you remove many of the variables from today’s current practice of Pharmacy, it’s no wonder pharmacists could complete the position themselves.

Imagine how easy the job would be if you only serviced twenty to thirty people a day and all the prescription prices were found on the bottom of the medication bottle?

The Present

pharmacy-technician-presentFor those who don’t know what a Pharmacy Technician is, then you should read our article “what is a Pharmacy Technician.”

In present time, it’s no surprise the pharmaceutical practice has a massive technological influence. You can legally fax or ERx, which is an electronic prescribing service used by select doctors and hospitals, to prescribe prescriptions now, which means the patient doesn’t even have to drop off prescriptions anymore.

With the growth and ease of use of technology in the pharmacy, the revenue a pharmacy brings has increased as well. An increase in revenue usually means a larger patient base. In 1970, the population of the state of Texas sat at 11.2 million people whereas today it sits at an estimated 27.4 million. With an increase that large, pharmacies have greatly evolved from being stand alone business to even being found within local supermarkets.

Due to the influx of patients, pharmacies have come up with time efficient ways to increase productivity and to make the experience a faster one for the patients. Most pharmacies have equipped drive throughs and multiple counters to meet with pharmaceutical representatives depending on the need or question at hand, and even text and phone call services are available for patient use.

With an increase of patients that large, the workload has significantly increased. Pharmacists are no longer able to do it by themselves anymore. The duties within a pharmacy range from ordering medications, doing regular inventory to bookkeeping, regularly typing prescriptions into the database and monitoring patient adherence. When you increase the patient count from 30 to 300 per day, a Pharmacy Technician becomes influentual in daily processes.

Over the past 30 years, Pharmacy Technicians have evolved into multiple teams or departments wrapped up into one person. You are an inventory team, an accounts payable manager, a bookkeeper, a customer service representative, an medical insurance billing specialist, and even a training manager. You are a pharmaceutical phenomenon!

In this day, technicians are more sought after than pharmacists. Imagine it this way, for every pharmacist there needs to be at least two to three technicians to match them. So, if there is a three pharmacist team, there needs to be at least six to nine technicians employed at that pharmacy as well. Technicians have become the major backbone to a pharmacy, without them a pharmacy is bound to deteriorate from the inside out.

The Future

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The future of pharmacy and Pharmacy Technicians relies solely on the treatment of the technician. Technicians are the wind beneath the pharmacists wings, and many pharmacists know this to be true. With the evolution that has already occurred, there’s no telling where the pharmaceutical world may be in the next 30 years.

Knowing your importance whether you are entering the Pharmacy Technician field or are a hardened veteran of the profession is the key to excelling. The future for pharmacy technicians is bright, and if this is a field you are planning on entering, you’ve decided upon a good one! The demand is at an all time high and this position will have staying power in the healthcare industry for years to come.

Author: Amanda Terry – Writer LinkedIn