Diabetes Ten City Challenge

Local Press Release

Chicago Employers Work to Improve Health and Lower Health Care Costs for People with Diabetes

CHICAGO, IL – It is estimated that nearly 600,000 people in Chicago have been diagnosed with diabetes, a chronic disease that costs the U.S. over $132 billion each year measured in the direct and indirect costs of emergency room visits, expensive and extended hospitalizations, disability insurance costs, absenteeism and lost worker productivity.

To combat these staggering statistics and help people with diabetes better manage their health, the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) has established Taking Control of Your Health, an employer-based diabetes self-management program endorsed by the Institute of Medicine of Chicago.

MBGH is one of more than 30 employer groups throughout the country selected to participate in the Diabetes Ten City Challenge (DTCC), a national employer-based diabetes self-management program conducted by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation, with support from GlaxoSmithKline.  Taking Control of Your Health is coordinated by MBGH, in cooperation with the Illinois Pharmacists Association and is supported by Novo Nordisk, Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

The lack of medication adherence has been identified as a major barrier to improving the health of people with diabetes. Since financial barriers are a leading source of poor medication adherence, employees of participating member companies will benefit from incentives offered by their employers.

The incentives for participants will focus on improving medication adherence by waiving or lowering co-pays for medication and medical supplies. Another incentive, and key component of the program, is for the employee-patient to meet regularly with a pharmacist coach, specially trained in diabetes education and monitoring.

Pactiv Corporation, the City of Naperville, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and Hospira are among the first MBGH members to offer enrollment in the Chicago program to their covered employees, dependents and retirees.

“We are looking for ways to support our employees who want to improve their health,”  said Judy Hearn, manager of health and welfare for Pactiv Corporation, maker of Hefty® brand products. “We believe Taking Control of Your Health provides people with diabetes valuable tools and support to actively manage their condition and offers incentives for them to take action. Pactiv is making this program available to its employees enrolled in PPOs in Illinois and will consider adding additional states as the program expands.”

Taking Control of Your Health and the Diabetes Ten City Challenge are modeled after several successful APhA Foundation programs, including the Asheville Project in North Carolina, a diabetes management program proven to improve overall health,  reduce absenteeism, shorten hospital stays and reduce health care costs since it was started in 1997. The DTCC is the first-ever national pilot seeking to prove that this model can be used effectively anywhere in the country.

Regularly scheduled in-person meetings between participants and their pharmacist coach in collaboration with physicians and diabetes educators are essential to the effectiveness of the DTCC and Taking Care of Your Health. Specially trained in diabetes education and monitoring, the pharmacists check key diabetes indicators and educate participants.

The objective of the meetings is to help people understand how to track their condition and encourage adherence to their medication, fitness and treatment regimens. As participants learn how to better manage diabetes, their health improves, making it possible to minimize unnecessary and costly physician and emergency room visits and surgeries.

“The pharmacist’s role is to be an educator and motivator, ensuring the patient follows their physician’s orders and understands how to manage and monitor their diabetes and medications,” said MBGH President and CEO Larry Boress.  “Studies have shown that with the treatment, education and motivation provided by this program, people can dramatically improve their health while positively impacting employer health care costs.”

The pharmacist network in Chicago is being coordinated and trained by the Illinois Pharmacists Association in cooperation with pharmacy schools at the University of Illinois at Chicago,  Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and Midwestern University.  To date, almost 50 pharmacists are participating, representing drugstore and supermarket chains, independently owned pharmacies and consulting practices.  Among the local chains involved are Dominick’s, Jewel-Osco and Walgreens.

Health plans and vendors utilized by the pilot’s employers are working closely with MBGH in making data available, promoting the project and modifying their systems to recognize participants. These include Allied Benefit Systems, Inc.,  Caremark, Express Scripts and Matria.

Chicago-based Emmi Solutions, LLC is providing an online education module about diabetes to pharmacists to support the educational component of the program through EmmiHealth™, a multimedia, Web-based program that provides people with information about managing a chronic condition. The Emmi series is designed to increase patient compliance and reinforce healthy behaviors.

The Midwest Business Group on Health will expand the program to all interested employers during 2007. In the future, MBGH’s Taking Control of Your Health may be expanded to other critical health care needs such as asthma, cardiovascular conditions and depression.

About the Midwest Business Group on Health

The Chicago-based Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) was founded in 1980 by a small group of large Midwest employers to help all types of purchasers – employers and their employees –  obtain more value from their health care benefit dollars and improve the health status of their constituents.

Today, MBGH is one of the nation’s leading coalitions of private and public employers.  MBGH’s 80+ members employ over 2 million workers, spending more than $2.3 billion on health care benefits on an annual basis.

Organized as a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation, MBGH offers employers a variety of health benefit educational seminars, networking opportunities, quality and community initiatives, demonstration projects and group purchasing programs.  MBGH is a member of the National Business Coalition on Health.

About Diabetes in the United States

According to the American Diabetes Association,  every 21 seconds another American is diagnosed with diabetes, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. More than 20 million children and adults (7% of the U.S.  population) have diabetes, but only 15 million have been diagnosed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 63 percent –  almost two thirds – of people diagnosed with diabetes are not achieving control of the disease. Each year, 200,000 people die of complications from diabetes;  and an additional 100,000 are affected by blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and problems of the lower extremities, including amputations.

About the APhA Foundation

The APhA Foundation, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit organization affiliated with the American Pharmacists Association, the national professional society of pharmacists in the United States.  The APhA Foundation has expertise in designing programs that seek to create a new medication use system in the United States where patients, pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers collaborate to dramatically improve the cost and quality of consumer health outcomes through the safe and effective use of medications.