Over the past decade, there have been several advances in how prescriptions are tracked by pharmacy technicians. These technological advancements have been implemented by retail pharmacies as well as in-hospital pharmacies to help provide a higher quality of patient care and education, while at the same time reduce errors.
Prescription Authorizations Submitted Electronically
In the past, when a doctor would write a prescription, they would do so on a piece of paper and then give this to the patient to take to their pharmacy or to a nurse to take to the in-hospital pharmacy. With advances in healthcare computer applications, doctors can now write a prescription electronically and submit it to the patient’s preferred pharmacy for processing.
When the pharmacy receives notice of a new prescription electronically, they create a patient-specific bar code for that individual and the medication being dispensed. The bar code serves several purposes beyond simplifying the tracking of the prescription, including:
- Allows pharmacy techs to double-check and verify the medication is dispensed in the right dosage and quantities.
- Tracks the administration of the medication in hospital settings, where nurses scan the bar code every time they give the patient their medication. This helps ensure patients are receiving the right dosage levels and are not being overdosed or receiving the wrong medications.
- Improves the verification processes that are part of the software apps used by pharmacies.
- Makes it easier to bill insurance companies and collect copays from patients.
- Provides opportunities to offer lower-cost generic alternatives for patients.
- Simplifies applying payments for medications.
- Tracks details about when a prescription is picked up, as well as makes it easier to credit back a patient’s account/insurance company when a prescription is not picked up.
The use of bar codes helps reduce errors through multiple levels involving medications, from the time a prescription is received until it is dispensed and picked up or administered to the patient.
Use of Databases for Tracking Medication Usage
Electronic databases have become more common in the pharmacy field because they allow pharmacies to share information and patient data, while still remaining compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As such, patients can easily transfer existing prescriptions from one pharmacy to another.
In addition, the tracking of certain pain relief medications, namely opioids like oxycodone and morphine, can help address the previous concerns over patients becoming addicted to these medications.
In the past, some people would obtain multiple prescriptions for the same medication from several different pharmacies. Since the pharmacies were not connected electronically with centralized database sharing, they each would dispense the prescription.
Today, since pharmacies are now connected and utilize database sharing, they can quickly see when the last time these types of prescriptions were filled. This allows them to notify people of the next time the prescription can legally be refilled and reduces the issue with multiple prescriptions for the same medications being dispensed by more than one pharmacy.
Aside from helping address addictions to pain-relieving medications, another benefit of using centralized database sharing is making it easier for people to get one-time and emergency prescriptions filled while away from home. For instance, someone might forget their daily maintenance medications (i.e., blood pressure, cholesterol, and so on), when they leave on vacation and need to get them while out of town.
All the person has to do is go to a local pharmacy and tell the pharmacist they forgot their medications at home, and they can pull the prescriptions from their primary pharmacy in their home town and provide them with enough medication to last until they return home.
Helps Prevent/Reduce Drug Interactions
A tracking system also helps pharmacists identify when one or more medications could cause adverse side effects because of potential drug negative drug interactions. When these types of situations arise, they can notify the physician who wrote the prescription and make them aware of the issue.
Better Education for Patients
Pharmacies that utilize bar coding, along with centralized database sharing, are better capable of providing useful information to patients and educating them about:
- Proper Dispensing
- Potential Side Effects
- Reducing the Risks of Side Effects
- How to Respond to an Adverse Reaction
Thanks to advances in technology, the pharmacy industry has not only made significant improvements to their processes but has also helped change and influence other areas of healthcare, resulting in a better quality of patient care.
If you are interested in a career as a pharmacy technician and want to learn how to use the latest technologies, you can enroll in medical training programs in NYC, here at ABC Training Center. Contact us at (718) 618-5589 to request program information or to enroll today!