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Pharmacist Coaches Reduce Health Care Costs and Improve Patient Health

Results of the Diabetes Ten City Challenge (DTCC) released last week by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation demonstrate how employers and pharmacists can work together to help people with diabetes manage their disease and reduce health care costs

The data, which will be published in a peer reviewed article in the May/June issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA), show average total health care costs were reduced annually by $1,079 per patient compared to projected costs if the DTCC had not been implemented. 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 because employers waived their co-pays to encourage patients to participate in the DTCC.

According to the analysis, there also were improvements in key clinical measures — including A1c (blood glucose), cholesterol and blood pressure – and increases in preventive care measures, including the number of people with current influenza vaccinations, eye exams and foot exams.

 

Through the DTCC, conducted by the APhA Foundation through HealthMapRX with support from GlaxoSmithKline, employers established a voluntary health benefit for employees, dependents and retirees with diabetes. Thirty employers in 10 cities waived co-payments for diabetes medications and supplies if participants met regularly with a specially trained pharmacist “coach” who helped them track their A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol and manage their disease through exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle changes. Pharmacists communicated with physicians after every visit and referred patients to other health care providers for additional care or education as needed.

“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, PharmD, director of patient self-management programs for HealthMapRx and lead author of the report.

APhA Foundation VP for Research and study co-author Ben M. Bluml said the DTCC offered a way for employers, pharmacists and people with diabetes to unite against the devastating disease. “The Diabetes Ten City Challenge 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,” he said.

The DTCC is modeled after several successful APhA Foundation programs that tested the pharmacist-coach model for managing chronic diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. Earlier this year, the APhA Foundation announced a partnership with Mirixa Corporation, the nation’s largest pharmacy-based patient care network, to offer the DTCC collaborative care model to employers nationwide for diabetes and other chronic diseases through HealthMapRx.

“Chronic disease is responsible for 7 of 10 American deaths and 75 percent of the nation’s $2.2 trillion health care bill,” said APhA Foundation CEO William Ellis. “The collaboration between the APhA Foundation and Mirixa provides an opportunity to transform health care delivery in local communities and drive fundamental change in the U.S. health care system. Our goal is to make this model as widely available as possible and encourage employers to invest in helping their employees manage all chronic conditions.”

ECI Communications for the APhA Foundation