Pharmacy Technician's Role in EHR Management
by Nichole Barnes, BHI, CPhT
The pharmacy technician role has grown so much in the last 15 years I have been practicing. We only entered orders, filled scripts, and placed orders when I started. Now, the role has expanded so much that technicians can do many different things, including administrative functions, informatics roles, and working with vendors on implementation and project management tasks.
In informatics roles, technicians now have a role in Electronic Health Record (EHR) Management. Electronic Health Records play a significant role in hospital pharmacies. This is where all vital patient information and order data are stored. The patient lab and test results will also be reviewed in the EHR. This is also where the drug library is stored and built. The Informatics Technician advanced role template published by ASHP states that there is significant work to manage and maintain an EHR. By employing a technician to do this work, they can free up a pharmacist for more clinical work, such as Antimicrobial Stewardship.
One of the tasks technicians can help with regarding EHR management is adding new drugs to the drug dictionary. When medications are added to the formulary, the data needs to be built and added to the EHR. They are also able to add IV medications. These are built-like compounds since they have more than one medication. In the Meditech EHR, these are called IV strings. So for a Zosyn bag, a technician would build out the string to include the drug, Zosyn, and the fluid bag, Normal Saline. They would likely build out several strings for all strengths of Zosyn and potentially for different frequencies.
EHR technicians can also help build and maintain electronic order sets within the EHR. An order set is a group of orders that providers typically order together. For instance, if a patient comes in for a knee replacement, specific labs, therapy, and medication orders are standard for all patients. To help providers save time, order sets are created to lump all orders for knee replacements into one set. The pharmacy technician would only be responsible for building the medication portion of this order set. The medications and orders have already been established and approved by the Pharmacy and Therapeutics committee and providers. Thus, it is not out of the technician’s scope of practice.
This EHR technician would be in charge of the entire lifecycle of medications within the EHR. This includes building the medications and order sets, ensuring orders are flowing correctly to the Medication Administration Record and that the medication administration is then flowing to the Finance department for billing. Many people don’t realize that small changes, to what they assume is just a medication can cause a significant domino effect with other parts of the EHR. The EHR technician must understand what other databases are affected when changes are made in other databases.
Then, there is one of my favorite parts of EHR management, and that is interface projects. This is where the EHR technician works with the IT team and outside vendors to ensure correct medication administration records that need to flow into vendor systems. An example of these vendor systems is automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) such as Omnicell or Pyxis. For the ADCs to know what medications to dispense, a message from the EHR must be sent to the ADC. Typically, these messages are called Health Level 7 (HL7) messages. This standard interface message transmits data like admission, discharge, or transfer information; medication orders and changes; lab orders and results; and much more. The EHR technician is responsible for making sure that HL7 messages are correctly flowing from the EHR into the vendor system. They will likely work hand-in-hand with their facility’s IT representative to resolve any issues.
These roles are just a few examples of how pharmacy technicians can help with HER management. I am so excited to see the role of the pharmacy technician continue to grow. The growth I have seen in the last 15 years gives me hope for our future. Even though this role may seem scary, it really is such a great opportunity for pharmacy technicians today!
1 “Informatics Technician - ASHP,” Www.ashp.org, accessed September 19, 2022,