October 13, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) has released the findings of a 2016 public perception survey, revealing that 85% of the public believes it is very important for pharmacy technicians to be certified. Consumers feel so strongly about certification that 76% say that they would seek out a different pharmacy if they knew technicians working in their current pharmacy were not certified. The survey shows that among consumers, frequent pharmacy visitors are even more likely (79%) to seek a pharmacy where technicians are certified, and adults with children at home are most likely (82%) to look elsewhere.
“Consumers want to feel safe, especially when it comes to the health of their families,” said Everett B. McAllister, MPA, RPh, PTCB Executive Director and CEO. “If consumers find that technicians employed in their regular pharmacy are not certified, they say they will seek out another pharmacy where technicians are certified. This is a call to action for the pharmacy profession: The public expects to be safe, and demands that technicians who help prepare their medications have the right credentials. Consumers are focused on safety, and a competent workforce is critical to the safety of our patients.”
Consumers say they see many benefits to requiring pharmacy technicians to be certified, with the major benefit being certification’s impact on accuracy and professional knowledge. “The public says active certification is the most important qualification for pharmacy technicians,” said Miriam A. Mobley Smith, PharmD, FASHP, PTCB Director of Strategic Alliances. “Certification gives people peace of mind about the medications they receive from the pharmacy and influences their choice of a pharmacy. Consumers clearly recognize the importance of having a uniform standard in place to help keep them safe.”
The survey, administered by KRC Research on behalf of PTCB, shows that misperceptions about laws governing technicians are widespread: 77% are under the misperception that all pharmacy technicians are required by law to be trained and certified before they can prepare prescriptions; when, in fact, regulations vary from state to state. Fewer than half the states include certification in their regulations, and if they include it, do not necessarily require it. Five states have no regulations at all for pharmacy technicians.
“There is a stark misalignment between public expectations and reality,” said Carmen Catizone, BPharm, DPh, PTCB Certification Council Chair and Executive Director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. “Most people assume laws are already in place for education and certification; this is what the public expects. More than three-quarters incorrectly believe that all technicians are required by law to be trained and certified. Two-thirds are under the misperception that only pharmacists are involved in dispensing prescriptions, but pharmacy technicians play integral roles in dispensing processes across all practice settings.”
Pharmacy technicians are employed in community pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, the military, physicians' offices, home health care, and other practice settings. Their responsibilities include entering prescription orders, operating dispensing systems, preparing IV admixtures, and maintaining inventories. They assist in managing medication therapy, support immunization and clinical testing, and help with financial assistance, transitions of care, and medication reconciliation.
According to the survey, Americans are frequent visitors to the pharmacy: 62% visit the pharmacy at least once a month to pick up prescriptions or seek medical advice.
PUBLIC PERCEPTION SURVEY
According to the survey, consumers have high expectations for the qualifications of pharmacy technicians and certification is extremely important in the eyes of the consumer:
85% say it is very important for people preparing prescriptions to be certified.
Almost all consumers, 88%, say it is very important for people who compound or mix custom medications to be specially trained and certified.
Consumers say pharmacies should only hire certified technicians:
74% believe it is very important that pharmacies only hire technicians who are certified.
76% would seek out a pharmacy where technicians are required to be certified.
94% say their trust in pharmacy technicians’ work would increase with standardized training and certification.
66% believe it is very important for pharmacy technicians to have a certification that is nationally accredited.
83% say having a certification that is active is very important.
77% say it is very important for state regulations to require training and certification of all pharmacy technicians.
77% incorrectly believe that pharmacy technicians are required by law to be trained and certified before they can help prepare prescriptions.
65% incorrectly believe that only licensed pharmacists are involved in dispensing drug prescriptions.
Only 15% of consumers know that people without formal training are allowed to help pharmacists prepare prescriptions.
A majority of consumers are frequent pharmacy patrons:
62% of consumers visit the pharmacy once a month or more (frequent visitors) to pick up prescriptions or seek medication advice.
66% of frequent pharmacy visitors are very confident in the accuracy of the information they receive there.
KRC Research conducted this quantitative survey among 1,000 American adults ages 18 and above with demographic quotas in place to match the US adult population. KRC took standard measures to reflect the US population by implementing quotas for variables. Surveying took place in April 2016. Survey length was 10 minutes.