WASHINGTON — The COVID-19 pandemic has created the need for broad public access to diagnostic testing, and in response, pharmacy technicians across the US have stepped up to take on the responsibility of administering point-of-care (POC) tests. As more states update pharmacy technician regulations to allow technicians to conduct the testing, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) has launched a new credential to recognize skills and knowledge in this critical role.
“With technicians leading on testing, our pharmacy is able to continue to run as normally as possible, and pharmacists are able to focus on other clinical tasks,” said Ariel Clark, PTCB Executive Fellow and a community pharmacist. “Our technicians are administering approximately 20 to 25 COVID tests per day and each test takes 10 to 15 minutes. If pharmacists in our pharmacy were required to administer all COVID tests, that would take the pharmacist away from their clinical role for 3 hours or more every day, and this would cause a drastic and unrecoverable lapse in pharmacy operations. It would be chaos.”
“Point-of-care testing at pharmacies is absolutely critical to public health, especially as communities continue to respond to COVID. As vital members of pharmacy teams, qualified technicians are taking on this responsibility and allowing pharmacies to deliver point-of-care testing while still offering all their other care services,” said PTCB Executive Director and CEO William Schimmel. “The new PTCB Assessment-Based Certificate enables employers to advance patient care by identifying the most qualified technicians for this role, and it enables technicians to advance both community health and their career while progressing toward earning the Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv) Certification.”
Technicians who earn the PTCB Point-of-Care Testing Certificate demonstrate their advanced knowledge in screening patients, administering tests, collecting specimens, and reading and recording test results
POC testing by pharmacy technicians is permitted under the expansion of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act in every state on an emergency basis, and some states have implemented new measures to permanently allow technicians to conduct POC testing.