Drug Store News
April 20, 2009
Diabetes ‘challenge’ yields health savings
By JIM FREDERICK
Retail pharmacists working with the cooperation of local employer-based health plan sponsors can dramatically reduce the costs of diabetic health care, a major, multi-year demonstration project has found. The result, said project leaders, could be profound changes in the U.S. healthcare delivery model.
Results of the Diabetes Ten City Challenge, released April 6 by the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, show clearly that the intervention and counseling of diabetes patients by trained pharmacists can have a measurable impact on the health costs those patients incur over an extended time period. Buoyed by the results of the long-term demonstration project, APhA will publish the results in a peer-reviewed article in the May/June issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.
Data gathered by project leaders show that average total healthcare costs were reduced by $1,079 per patient per year, compared with projected costs if the Ten City Challenge program had not been implemented, according to APhA.
Pharmacist coach Dale Klemm demonstrates a foot exam as part of the Diabetes Ten City Challenge, which matches patients to community pharmacist "coaches" who provide hands-on education.
The APhA Foundation launched the Ten City Challenge in 10 U.S. communities in 2005, with support from GlaxoSmithKline. The program was coordinated by HealthMapRx - a partnership of the APhA Foundation and Mirixa Corp. that offers incentive programs to encourage patients with chronic conditions to better manage their conditions. The HealthMapRx programs match patients to community pharmacist "coaches" who provide hands-on education, monitoring and evaluation of health improvements.
The goal of the Ten City Challenge, according to APhA, "was to fundamentally change the way chronic disease is managed and paid for through a value-based benefit design model "that would" align incentives for all stakeholders," including employer-sponsored health plans.
The results of that effort took a long time to compile and evaluate. But the benefits arising from a regular series of patient interventions by pharmacists participating in the diabetes project were clear and profound.
"Aggregate data for 573 participants, who were in the program for an average of 14.8 months, show patients saved an average of $593 per year on their diabetes medications and supplies," APhA reported.
The program also demonstrated improvements in key clinical measures, according to the group. Among the gains: a 23% increase in the number of participants achieving goals set by the American Diabetes Association; an 11% increase in the number of participants achieving National Cholesterol Education Program goals; and a 39% increase in the number of participants with a combined diastolic/systolic blood pressure goal achievement of 130/80.
“The Diabetes Ten City Challenge demonstrated the power of partnership and the impact of putting patients at the center of their own care," said Toni Fera, director of patient self-management programs for HealthMapRx and lead author of the report.