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A brief outline of pharmacy informatics, Pharmacy informative pharmacists & technicians

  • Pharmacy informatics basically tends to initiate an evolution in the pre-existing worldwide medical informatics.
  • Pharmacy informatics that opens a new door of opportunities for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, technologists as well as medical technicians.
  • A field that connects medical knowledge with technology with the help of advanced software & applications.
  • The objective of this article is to give a brief overview of pharmacy informatics, its demands. It’s the future & role of pharmacy informatics technicians.
  • Literature has suggested several roles for pharmacy technicians in the field of pharmacy informatics in generalized themes.

Introduction:

Pharmacy technician informaticists (PTI), also known as Pharmacy technician informative specialists. “They can be defined as trained personnel or pharmacy technicians who are purposefully trained to enable them to handle the use of technologies, applications & software within different setups of pharmacy practice to minimize medication errors & to promote patient safety more efficiently.” 

What is pharmacy informatics:

Nowadays, the health care system is rapidly growing & changing. To meet the demands & requirements of the modern health care system, pharmacy staff responsibilities are also increasing. Now a new theme is introduced to use the technology for patient care with more accuracy levels. It is a justified statement that “informatics” is a new evolution in the field of pharmacy. Before this terminology, a general term of “medical informatics” has been used that can be defined as field or branch of informative science that deals with the analysis, dissemination & use of medical information through software & applications of computers to various aspects of medicine & health care.

Pharmacy informatics can be defined as “A subset or sub-branch of medical informatics that basically deals with the applications of health data related to the pharmacy for multiple purposes & functions.” The formal definition of pharmacy informatics by the American society of health system pharmacy is given as “The usage & integration of data, knowledge, technology, information & automation in all the processes related to medicines for improving health output & achieve accuracy in health care system.”

The job description of  pharmacy informatics technician:

Pharmacists & pharmacy technicians are already engaged in a variety of health care settings by the health care system . Being a new evolution in the field of pharmacy, pharmacy informatics provides unique opportunities to pharmacists as well as pharmacy technicians. The job description of Pharmacy informatics technicians are as follows:

  • E- prescribing & computerized prescribe order entry. 
  • Maintaining electronic medical records.
  • Maintaining electrical health records.
  • Bar code dispensing. 
  • Automated dispensing cabinets.
  • Monitoring program database of controlled drug dispensing like narcotics. 
  • Immunization registries.
  • Prescription review. 
  • Providing technical & clinical oversight into the health information system.
  • Ensure the integrity of data in the system.

Role of pharmacy informatics technicians:

Pharmacists & pharmacy technicians can efficiently perform an active role in pharmacy informatics as “pharmacy informatics pharmacists” or “pharmacy informatics technicians”. Before discussing the role of pharmacy informatics technicians, it is necessary to discuss a variety of technologies that can be used within pharmacy practice on routine bases. These technologies are classified in the following three classes: 

  • Efficacy.
  • Efficiency.
  • Safety.

The utility of these techniques can be seen throughout the various steps of pharmacy-related procedures & workflow. Although it is a brief topic, we are limiting our discussion to expose the role of mainly pharmacy technicians & their common workplace.

The American society of health system pharmacists have highlighted the following five broad areas that demand pharmacy informatics technicians to play their role with the responsibility that are mentioned as follows: 

  • Information management: that consists of barcode medication administration, interoperability & computerized order entry provide.
  • Data analysis: that involves health care analysis. 
  • Change management: that involves business intelligence.
  • Knowledge delivery: That includes clinical decision support & EHR optimization.
  • Clinical informatics: That includes automated medical reconciliation & smart pump optimization.

1. Prescription data entry:

The modern pharmacy practice is supported by a clinical decision support system (CDS) in the computer that assists in checking drug interactions referred to as interaction checkers. This system worked optimally when the dug record of the patient entered the system from the start & no drug taken by the patient should be missed to be entered in records; otherwise, in the next visit, the interaction of the previous drug will be escaped & result in serious consequences. A proper record must include: 

  • Patient consultation.
  • Clinical visits.
  • Patient discharge.
  • Medication management therapy sessions.
  • Other clinical services.
  • New visits or new drug regimens.

Any change in medication should be informed by the patient to a pharmacist via voice note or call or any other standard operating procedure implemented at that pharmacy.

Pharmacy informatics technicians are responsible to enter data correctly for patient’s safety & try to minimize errors as much as possible.

2.  Prescription dispensing &  compounding:

Automatic dispensing does not eliminate the pharmacy technicians but may reduce error rate & time of prescription filling. Pharmacy robots use integrates with pharmacy computer software that leads to more improvement in the management of inventory to order & receive the proper stock of needed medications. 

In the same way, bar code technology, although being expensive but now in practice within community pharmacy setups & seems to reduce errors. Barcode technology is time-saving as well as labor-saving. However, a slight deviation of pharmacy technicians from standard operating procedures may increase the risk of errors. These deviations are labeled as “workarounds.” The most commonly identified reasons for workaround are:

  • Unreadable medication barcodes.
  • Malfunctioning scanners.
  • Non branded medications or medicines without barcodes.

Pharmacy technicians that work in pharmacy with barcode technology should be fully trained & aware of these type of issues & must inform or notify the shift supervisor to take immediate & appropriate steps must be taken by pharmacy informatics staff to resolve these problems. Almost all pharmacies have to bear high stress during work shifts, so pharmacy technicians must stay active & vigilant to avoid unintended medication errors.

3. Monitoring outputs:

Pharmacy health care providers & pharmacies are also responsible for monitoring the outcomes of medications on patients; that is how efficient medications work. These records can be maintained by providing advanced patient care services through MTM computer platforms, i.e., medication therapy management sessions. Health outcomes related to the pharmacy from these services is tacked by these platforms & then further reported to Medicare part D prescription plans, which is then further reported to CMS. The role of pharmacy informatics technicians is to assess & monitor this whole procedure, while more responsibilities of pharmacists & pharmacy technicians are still evolving to generate the best practice model of pharmacy-pharmacy coordination to complete MTM cases. 

One of the examples of real-world & largest quality medicare plans is Pharmacy related medicare star rating system that records following measure with proper explanation:

  • High-risk medication.
  • Diabetes treatment.
  • Adherence of medication for diabetes.
  • Adherence of medication for hypertension.
  • Adherence of medication for cholesterol.

The ongoing role of pharmacy informatics technicians:

Official endorsement from national pharmacy organization & involvement of pharmacy technicians in pharmacy informatics has already brought too many responsibilities on their shoulders. The use of technology for daily tasks is the sole target of their duties. Several themes have been published in the recently published literature that discusses the role of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy assistants & medical informatics to support pharmacy informatics. Generally, the role has been categorized in the following three simple themes. 

  • Health system pharmacy technicians.
  • Community pharmacy technicians.
  • Pharmacy technician informatics.

Conclusion:

Medical informatics has influence over a lot of medicare care aspects over the years. Regarding the future of pharmacy informatics, pharmacy technicians must be supported & integrated to take part & play their roles with dedication for its more development. Pharmacy technologists should gain enough knowledge to learn more about the utility of technologies that apply to daily pharmacy practice. As this field of pharmacy, informatics continues to flourish more in future years & pharmacy informatics technicians will continue to play their dedicated role within various aspects of pharmacy practice.

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