Advancing technician practice: Deliberations of a regulatory board

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In 2016, the Idaho State Board of Pharmacy (U.S.) undertook a major rulemaking initiative to advance pharmacy practice by broadening the ability of pharmacists to delegate tasks to pharmacy technicians. The new rules of the Board thus moved the locus of control in technician scope of practice from law to pharmacist delegation. Pharmacist delegation is individualistic and takes into account the individual technician's capabilities, the pharmacist's comfort level, facility policies, and the risk mitigation strategies present at the facility, among other factors. State law limits, by contrast, are rigid and can mean that pharmacists are unable to delegate tasks that are or could otherwise be within the abilities of their technicians.

The expanded technician duties are in two domains: 1) medication dispensing support (e.g., tech-check-tech, accepting verbal prescriptions, transferring prescriptions, and performing remote data entry); and 2) technical support for pharmacist clinical services (e.g., administering immunizations). This commentary reviews the evidence behind these expanded duties, as well as the key regulatory decision points for each task. The Board's rules and approach may prove useful to other states and even other governing bodies outside the U.S. as they consider similar issues.

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