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Patti Napier Initiates Change for Future New Zealand Technician’s Roles.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

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Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Ministry of Health, announces a new technician role that will help to free up pharmacists so they can spend more time with patients. We ask Otago School of Pharmacy PhD student Patti Nelson of her involvement.

“Internationally, the clinical expertise of the pharmacist is being recognised, utilised and remunerated.” writes PhD student, Patti Napier in her recent publication “Can they do it? Comparing the views of pharmacists and technicians to the introduction of an advanced technician role”. Patti investigated the opinions of pharmacists and technicians regarding the ability of New Zealand technicians to take on an advanced checking technician role. This new role would give our pharmacists the opportunity to spend more time communicating with their patients.

“Our community is getting older and living longer” says Patti, emphasising the need for our pharmacist to be more clinically focused. “Our community is changing and the pharmaceutical society must make changes too.”

Pharmacy Accuracy Checking Technicians (PACT) were first introduced in the UK in 2005. Their role is to complete the dispensing process by conducting a final accuracy check on dispensed medications, a role usually carried out by a pharmacist. The UK have demonstrated that the employment of checking technicians allows a community pharmacist to spend more time with their patients. Technicians have been taking on extended roles in the UK, the USA and Canada.

Patti first examined the idea while completing her Masters at the Otago School of Pharmacy. The reactions and opinions received from surveys conducted were encouraging and presented an opportunity to continue her study. Patti commenced her PhD in 2013 under the direction of Associate Professor Rhiannon Braund and Professor Pauline Norris.

In 2011 Patti sent out a survey to pharmacists and technicians asking them what they thought about the new role. Overall the responses were positive and encouraging. This survey started a chain of events involving several different individuals, including Health Workforce NZ who decided, in 2014, to fund a pilot project that would explore the idea further.

The Pharmaceutical Society of NZ, on behalf of Health Workforce NZ, undertook the Pharmacy Accuracy Checking Technician Demonstration Site Project to investigate the viability of introducing pharmacy accuracy checking technicians into the pharmacy workforce in New Zealand. The demonstration site project was undertaken in 11 pharmacies across New Zealand.

Patti’s undertook an evaluation of the pilot project. The data obtained was given to Quigley and Watts Ltd for their evaluation of the Pharmacy Checking Technician Demonstration Site Project which confirmed the project to be suitable for national roll out.

After years of research and investigation, Patti Napier has the satisfaction of seeing huge changes in the health industry with the Minister of Health, Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman recently announcing the new role of a “Pharmacy Checking Technician” is to be introduced at the end of this year.

Technicians will be trained and certified to carry out the final check on a dispensed item, giving the pharmacist more time to spend communicating with their patients.

Patti is a little “numb” as she concentrates on completing her PhD at Otago School of Pharmacy. “It’s amazing. It’s going to have a huge impact on a lot of people”, says Patti.

Read Health Minister announcement here