OPTA’s guiding values are aligned with our parent organization NCODA, those being:
Our mission is to support and encourage the professional development of oncology centers and medically integrated dispensing clinics nationwide.
We as an association will strive to strengthen and empower dispensing staff in their increasingly vital role by providing leadership and sharing knowledge to ensure better outcomes for patients.
Our vision is that each patient receives the maximum benefit from their cancer treatment by cultivating a community focused on advancing the role of the oncology pharmacy technician through professional development & innovation.
OPTA’s primary goals are to:
Advance the value of oncology pharmacy technicians for all practices
Maximize members’ professional development through training, collaboration and knowledge sharing of resources, tools, professional benchmarks, and other value-adds to OPTA members
Advocate for oncology pharmacy technicians to be an influential voice for patient cancer care issues
Collaborate with all oncology pharmacy technicians to influence and strengthen the safety, quality, and access to care for each cancer patient
Create valuable networks among OPTA members
At 400 members strong, the Oncology Pharmacy Technician Association is the only organization for our professional discipline. As the forum for the global oncology pharmacy technician community, OPTA provides a voice and resources for oncology pharmacy technicians everywhere. OPTA is by oncology pharmacy technicians, for oncology pharmacy technicians. We want to provide the platform for our members to connect and work together to advance personally and professionally to provide a higher level of care for our patients.
Current OPTA member Carol Hemersbach, CPhT, from Arizona Blood and Cancer Specialists stated, “Oncology pharmacy techs play an integral role in cancer care, and with the growth of oral chemotherapy agents, we need to empower and arm these technicians with the knowledge they need to provide quality care to cancer patients. The new OPTA will help us accomplish this.”
Name: Alicia Barnes
Practice: Summit Cancer Centers, Spokane WA
Title/Role: Oral Chemo Technician
How did you hear about NCODA’s Oncology Pharmacy Technician Association (OPTA)? I attended my first NCODA Fall summit a month after I started with the practice and joined OPTA right away
How can OPTA or NCODA help you and your practice? OPTA is great to hear from other technicians in the same role as you and learn what is working for others or share tips and tricks that you have learned yourself and help other practices
What type of pharmacy does your practice contain (i.e. Medically Integrated Pharmacy, Retail, etc.)? Medically Integrated in office dispensing
Explain your current role at your practice. I currently hand all of the oral chemo for all 4 of our clinics. I do the prior authorization, I do the financial assistance, drug ordering, filling of the prescriptions, management of refills, and coordinate free drug when needed
What do you enjoy most about your current position? The financial assistance aspect is by far my favorite. I absolutely love being able to help patients obtain their medication at low or no cost when otherwise it would not be affordable.
What do your day-to-day responsibilities include? Refilling medications, facilitating which clinic they need to be ordered or shipped to, maintaining grants and funding, ordering medications, get the ball rolling for new starts that a provider may have, communicating with outside specialty pharmacies to ensure that things are handled in a timely manor with them.
Do you assume any specialized duties/responsibilities from time-to-time? I have taken over the role as Vaccine Coordinator for our clinic during the COVID-19 Vaccine efforts
Do you have any “best-practices” that you use at your practice that you would like to share with other OPTA members? I would say my “best-practice” would be to do as much for the patient as possible to make it as easy on them as possible. They have enough to manage right now and the last thing they need to worry about is how they are going to afford treatment, or worry about the processes involved. They just need to worry about taking the medication and taking care of themselves.
Are there any areas where you / your pharmacy can improve (i.e. patient education, improved process workflow, etc.)? As one person handling all of the orals, there is always room to improve. I am always looking for ways to improve my workflow, to make it the most efficient. That is really what I enjoy about the OPTA meetings, hearing what is working for others.
What advise do you have for any technicians who are new to the oncology/hematology field? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask fellow technicians, pharmacist, providers. Lean on your reps for patient assistance help. I keep a special notebook where I write down EVERYTHING as far as what was involved in process that I can refer back to next time I am in that situation so that I can do it more efficiently the second time around. Keep track of what specific program requirements are so that you can gather all information the first time. Keep track of what certain insurance companies require so that the authorization is fast and simple each time. Keep short cuts to popular insurance formularies.
“From billing issues to medication information to bettering patient care, I know I can turn to OPTA as a reliable resource to answer my questions. Becoming an OPTA member has bettered my career in so many ways and it is so inspiring to be able to network with other Oncology technicians with the same passion for patient care excellence!”
– Rosa Guerrero, CPhT (Billings Clinic Specialty Pharmacy)