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Chain Drug Review
June 29, 2009
PROGRAM TACKLES COST OF CARE
A program in which employers, pharmacists and people with diabetes collaborate to attempt to rein in skyrocketing diabetes-related health care costs and improve patient health shows significant promise, according to the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation.
In the Diabetes Ten City Challenge (DTCC), conducted by APhA with support from GlaxoSmithKline PLC, 30 employers in 10 cities set up a voluntary health benefit for employees, dependents and retirees with diabetes (see story on page 208 on the Midwest Business Group on Health, one of the DTCC participants).
Under the DTCC program, employers waived co-payments for diabetes medications and supplies if patients met regularly with a local pharmacist “coach” who helped them track their blood sugar levels and cholesterol and encouraged them to manage their disease through exercise, nutrition and lifestyle changes.
The specially trained pharmacists also communicated with the patients’ doctors when necessary.
Data released recently on 573 diabetes patients enrolled in the program for at least one year show that average total health care costs were reduced annually by nearly $1,100 per patient, or 7.2%, compared with projected costs without the DTCC program. Patients saved an average of $593 per year on their diabetes medications and supplies.
Major improvements in key health measures also were evident, including a 23% increase in the number of patients achieving the American Diabetes Association blood sugar level goal, an 11% increase in the number of patients reaching optimal cholesterol levels and a 39% increase in the number of patients getting their blood pressure under control.
Study results appear in the May/June issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.
The DTCC model is being implemented through HealthMapRx, a program started by the APhA Foundation in 2007 for diabetes and other chronic diseases. HealthMapRx is now a partnership of the Foundation and Mirixa Corp.
The nonprofit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) has announced first-year results of Taking Control of Your Health (TCYH), an employer-based diabetes management program. The results indicate high satisfaction, cost savings and improvement in key clinical indicators used to measure how well a patient is managing diabetes.
MBGH was one of 30 groups throughout the country that participated in the Diabetes Ten City Challenge.
Under the TCYH program, the employers realized a savings of $1,467 per participant in just one year, or $126,162 for all 86 participants, compared with projected costs for diabetics not in the program. Average total health care costs for participants declined by almost $625.
With over 200 participating patients, TCYH is open to covered employees, dependents and retirees from employer members of MBTH. It has three elements: employers reduce or waive co-pays for diabetic drugs and supplies; patients sign an agreement committing themselves to education and face-to-face coaching on diabetes self-management in return for reduced drug costs; and pharmacists are trained as diabetes coaches to assist patients.