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Employee Benefit News
April 14, 2009
Pharmacist-coach project reduces health costs
By Lydell C. Bridgeford
A disease management program in which pharmacists served as health coaches to patients with diabetes is reducing health care costs and improving medication adherence, according to the sponsors of Diabetes Ten City Challenge.
In the program, the average total health care costs were reduced annually by $1,079 per patient, compared to projected costs if the program had not been implemented.
The initiative involves 30 employers in 10 cities that waived copayments for diabetes medications and supplies if participants met routinely with a specially trained pharmacist. The pharmacist-coach educates patients about tracking their A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as managing their disease through exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle changes.
The Diabetes Ten City Challenge and the American Pharmacists Association Foundation recently released aggregate data for 573 participants, which show that individuals in the program for 14.8 months saved an average of $593 per year on their diabetes medications and supplies.
In addition, the percentage of participants with current flu vaccines grew from 32% to 65%; those with current eye exams spiked from 57% to 81%; and those with current foot exams increased from 34% to 74%.
Other findings included a 23% increase in the number of participants achieving the American Diabetes Association A1C (blood glucose) goal of <7; a 11% jump 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 project "provides a promising collaborative care model that blends important elements of a 'reformed' health care delivery process by integrating accessibility, patient-centeredness and value achieved by helping patients to make clinical improvements while managing costs" says Benjamin M. Bluml, the APhA Foundation's vice president for research and the study's co-author.