Pharmacy Technicians and Informatics

Pharmacy informatics

“So what do you do?”

“I’m a pharmacy technician informaticist.”

“A what!?!”

Wouldn’t it be cool to be a pharmacy technician informaticist (PTI) also known as a pharmacy technician informatics specialist? But what exactly does it mean?

“…Pharmacy informatics…has been defined as ‘the use and integration of data, information knowledge, technology, and automation in the medication-use process for the purpose of improving health outcomes’,” states the “ASHP Statement on the Pharmacy Technician’s Role in Pharmacy Informatics,” a © 2013 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists report.

A PTI or pharmacy technician specialized in informatics is specially trained to use technologies, management systems and electronic tools geared towards improving optimal pharmacy services and ultimately patient care and safety—they are one of the pharmacy’s tech gurus.

Pharmacy Informatics

Right now, it’s usually more common to hear about Informatics Pharmacists, or pharmacists specialized in the pharmacy’s informatics technologies.

However, with the growing trend of holding pharmacy technicians to a higher standard (i.e. regulating education, certification and/or licensure) and expanding their role so that pharmacists can allocate more time to patient care, opportunities are arising for pharmacy technicians to become specialized in informatics and positions are being created.

“ASHP believes that pharmacists have the unique knowledge, expertise, and responsibility to assume a significant role in health informatics,” states the © 2013ASHP Statement. “A properly trained and qualified pharmacy technician may assume a supporting role in the field of informatics as well.”

Pharmacy Technician Informatics Specialist – Case Study

Magruder Hospital, located in Port Clinton, Ohio, has a pharmacy technician (PT) informatics specialist, described Kristy Malacos in her June 2014 Pharmacy Practice News article.

Technicians who specialize in this area focus on the acquisition, manipulation, analysis and storage of data within the pharmacy system,” Malacos wrote. “More specifically, they focus on daily electronic functions, such as CPOE [computerized provider order entry], barcoding, formulary maintenance, and ADC [automated dispensing cabinets] implementation and troubleshooting.”

For example, when it comes to the automated dispensing cabinets ( ADCs), which help with managing inventory, security and safety, among other benefits, the PT informatics specialist helped set up the system at the beginning and then took on the role as educator and support for other departments in the hospital.

Another example involves the pharmacy technician informaticist executing and maintaining barcoding systems which help reduce medication distribution errors.

Pharmacy Technician Informatics Training

While PTIs learn a lot of their skills and expertise on the job, especially as new technologies become adopted, there are also formal training program options.

For example, those who are already pharmacy technicians can complete health informatics training programs and continuing education courses (even online) or one can advance their pharmacy tech education with a health informatics degree.

Also, some  pharmacy technician programs are now specifically adding informatics to their curricula and updating their practice labs with such features as automated pill counters, automated dispensing machines, updated software and more.

If becoming a pharmacy technician informaticist interests you, ask prospective pharmacy tech schools whether their courses and facilities will provide you with some training in informatics.

And if you now take a look at online job boards, you can already find “pharmacy technician informatics” positions advertised; in the future there will expectantly be more.