What a Pharmacy Technician Does

What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?I have been writing articles on why and how to become a pharmacy technician, but some recent feedback has made me realize I left out the obvious. What is it that pharmacy technicians do in a pharmacy? Most people figure they help the pharmacist enter prescriptions and count pills. This is true for an outpatient pharmacy, also called a retail pharmacy, but there are many roles for pharmacy technicians in healthcare. The rest of this article will list different types of pharmacy settings and the roles that pharmacy technicians have in these settings.Community/Retail Pharmacy:I have worked retail, and I prefer other settings; however, it is where a large percentage of pharmacy technician jobs are found. What a pharmacy technician can do is determined by the state they work via state laws and rules. In general, technicians cannot provide clinical information to patients or be the final check for prescriptions. In some states, technicians are allowed to provide information on over-the-counter (OTC) medication (ie, medications that do not require a prescription, such as, acetaminophen and ibuprofen). Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:• Collecting patient information (insurance and personal information as needed)
• Entering and processing prescriptions in the computer system
• Filling and selling prescriptions
• Requesting refills from doctor offices for patients
• Compounding medications that are not commercially available
• Ordering medications
• Restocking shelves
• Answering the phone
• Working with insurance companies on approving payment for certain medications
• Maintaining the cash register and conducting accounting functionsHospital Pharmacy:There are many different roles for pharmacy technicians in a hospital pharmacy. I know this type of pharmacy best since this is where most of my work has been. The most common are technicians who work in the central pharmacy. In addition we have decentralized techs, sterile compounding techs, billing techs, OR techs, narcotic techs, database techs, automation techs, team lead techs, and buyer techs. These technicians as a whole perform the following tasks, but not limited to:

• Filling new orders, this includes a variety of medications from oral medications to specially prepared sterile compound medications (including chemotherapy meds)
• Answering the phone
• Tubing medications (if the pharmacy has a pneumatic tube station)
• Preparing medications for delivery
• Delivering medications
• Assisting floor pharmacists with medication histories
• Assisting floor pharmacists with IV drip checks
• Handling missing dose calls
• Billing medications where nurse charting does not bill
• Maintaining the pharmacy database
• Restocking operating rooms and anesthesia trays with appropriate medication
• Dispensing and tracking all controlled substances throughout the hospital
• Maintaining automation equipment [automated dispensing cabinets that store medication on nursing units, automatic fill systems (typically called Robot-Rx)]
• Purchasing of all medication and supplies needed in the pharmacy
• Leading and managing the technician workforce, including upkeep of schedulesLong-Term Care Pharmacy:I have worked at a couple of long-term care pharmacies, and I think it is a great place to be a technician. They typically employee a lot of techs because the work load lends itself to a lot of technician tasks. These pharmacies provide the medication needs for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and psychiatric facilities. The typical pharmacy is located in a warehouse. It does not have an open pharmacy for people to come to; they receive orders by fax and deliver all medications via couriers or drivers to facilities. The oral medication is filled in blister packs (cards of 30 tabs that are used to provide a 1 month supply of medication), or some other mechanism that provide the facility with an extended amount of medication doses that can be safely and cleanly kept until doses are due. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:• Filling new and refill orders (different from hospital because of the number of doses provided)
• Processing new order and refills coming through the fax machine
• Order entry of prescriptions and printing of labels for fill techs
• Sterile compounding of medications (although there aren’t as many sterile compounded medications as a hospital, there are still enough that most long-term care pharmacies have a few techs specialize in sterile compounding
• Billing medications to homes
• Controlled substance dispensing and documentation
• Ordering medications and supplies
• Restocking medications that are returned that are still suitable for reuse.Home Infusion Pharmacy:These pharmacies primarily care for patients that require some form of IV or other non oral medication, and want to receive the therapy at home (hence the name home-infusion). I have also worked in a home-infusion pharmacy. As a tech I had a lot of experience in sterile compounding, and found my self in any position that needed a IV room tech. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:• Compounding sterile preparations in the clean room
• Preparing supplies associated with sterile medication administration for delivery
• Billing medications delivered to patients home
• Coordinating deliveries of medications with patients
• Entering orders in the pharmacy order entry systemNuclear Pharmacy:No, I have not worked in a nuclear pharmacy (I am sure you were staring to think I got around quite a bit, but I have been in pharmacy for about 17 years). I have some friends who work in a nuclear pharmacy. The hours are interesting; they usually come in at about 3 AM and work until about noon. These types of pharmacies make radioactive compounds and they need to be made in a way that when they are delivered to the hospital or clinic administering them, that the dose has degraded to a specific amount. Without going into too much detail, these medications have short half-lives. So they have to time the compounding of the product with the time it takes to deliver the medication and the time the patient is to receive the dose. The job pays well, but as you can imagine, there are not a ton of these positions available. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:

• Preparing radioactive products
• Cleaning and preparing sterile compounding areas
• Entering orders into the pharmacy system
• Coordinating dose due times with deliveries and preparation
• Billing products to hospital or clinicHealth Plans/HMO Pharmacy Group:I saved this one for last because it is a lot different. Most healthcare plans have a pharmacy department. They manage the pharmacy benefit of the health plan. I have worked with my companies health plan and have spent some time with the pharmacy department. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:• Answering phone calls and providing support for patients on the pharmacy benefit
• Reviewing prior authorization requests
• Providing support to physicians and drug companies for information requests
• Supporting the pharmacists in the department with database and projects as neededAs you can see, pharmacy technician roles can be very diverse. The best advice I can give you is to figure out what setting you would most like to work in and obtain some experiential hours in that setting. I have found that the type of pharmacy you train in is typically the type of pharmacy you end up working in.

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Insight: Five Reasons the Nonwovens Market Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

Today, innovations in nonwovens are growing as quickly as global demand. From housewraps to laundry aids, nonwovens open up a large and ever-increasing number of possibilities for a range of industries.This insight refers to all industrial nonwovens which are sold business to business and are used mostly in commercial operations. Applications are diverse, and include automobile body degreasing, hard surface cleaning and skin preparation. In 2012, the global consumption of industrial non-wovens was 3.30 million tonnes, and this is forecast to reach 4.95 million tonnes by 2017.In this insight, we examine: what are the main drivers behind this impressive growth of industrial nonwovens?1.) Low raw material supply and cost
Industrial nonwovens are less expensive to produce than most alternative products. This low cost is measured not only in currency but in consumption of raw materials. Nonwovens use a significant percentage of European and American wood pulp, which is not petroleum based, and is also renewable and relatively inexpensive. As oil is expected to increase in both demand and price until 2017, use of natural fiber for nonwovens in the place of petroleum based material is favourable.Water is also becoming a scarce resource as industries and populations compete for supplies. Woven cotton textiles require a great deal of freshwater irrigation, as well as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The replacement of woven cotton textiles with wood pulp and/or rayon-based nonwovens therefore not only saves money, but valuable resources.

2.) Advantageous manufacturing processes
Nonwovens are usually made using relatively new technologies and use less energy, produce minimum effluent and require fewer raw materials than older methods of production. For example, the now common spunbonding process is only around 50-60 years old, whereas textile spinning and paper-making have been around for a few thousand years.There are also fewer resources required during the nonwoven production process. Spunlaid, needlepunch, carded and airlaid nonwovens use little or no water, while spunlace uses almost no chemicals and recycles 99% of the water it uses. Nonwoven processes are typically very flexible. This has meant that many industrial processes can rapidly and inexpensively change to produce multiple different products, allowing a much greater degree of product diversification than is possible with wovens or other materials.3.) Regulation and sustainability concerns
Environmental responsibility influences the manufacturing methods of most industrial products, and nonwovens are no exception. Regulatory pressures and retailer proactivity have meant that movement towards sustainability is now common in this market.Those in the nonwovens industry feel that sustainability is a need driven by both consumers and governments, and the time to act is now rather than later. For example, while packaging has been the main area of emphasis, Walmart has acknowledged that other areas, such as nonwovens, are also important.This impacts both the consumer nonwovens market and the industrial nonwovens sector, and the suggestion that the world’s largest retailer might judge and select nonwovens based on the environmental performance of the suppliers has had an immense effect. A wide variety of products have begun changing for environmental reasons: airlace, with woodpulp replacing rayon in traditional spunlace for wet wipes, airlaid pulp replacing highloft polyester in automotive insulation, and a new ‘repurposed cotton’ fiber for use in spunlace are now marketed.4.) High performance
In some cases, industrial nonwovens materials deliver properties unattainable by other materials, leading to their increased popularity. Exemplary materials include clean-room wipes, which provide a highly entangled web with high strength and abrasion resistance. The large quantity of water used at high pressure tends to remove all loose fibers or particles all at high speed and relatively light basis weights. There are no woven products comparable.

There are dozens of other instances where nonwovens just perform better than equivalent products, from industrial wipes to automotive insulation, from packaging to battery separators. Sometimes the pure performance of a product rather than cost or convenience drives this market.5.) New and competitive materials
The nonwovens market continues to evolve and adapt in order to best serve the needs of various industries, especially in terms of cost and performance. In spunlace, a precursor web containing segmented bicomponent fibers makes it possible to produce both a cost-effective and high performance microfiber substrate, useful in filtration and industrial wipes.Airlaid is already 80-90% wood pulp, one of the most sustainable raw materials in nonwovens. Low-density versions are a suitable replacement for foam plastic packaging, and combined with a dispersible binder, airlaid is perfect for repulpable packaging or flushable wipes. This constant adaptation to keep up with a fast-moving industry has meant that the global market for nonwovens shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.