When pharmacists get involved in patient care, significant improvements are often seen. Diabetes management is one of the most notable examples. Both studies and real-world examples show that with pharmacist interventions, patients’ blood sugar levels improve; they are more adherent to medications; and, in some cases, they can reduce the number of medications they are taking.
“Pharmacists are definitely playing an important role in healthcare, and making time for counseling patients on diabetes or any health-related issue is critical to supporting our patients,” said Rachel O’Koren, director, clinical programs & quality for Walgreens.
Pharmacists at the 8,177-store chain help diabetic patients understand their medications with programs such as “new-to therapy consultations” and Medication Therapy Management (MTM), which help provide a “real connection between the patient and pharmacist in the management of the patient’s diabetes,” O’Koren said.
“Our goal is to ensure these patients not only know how to take their medications but also how to help them fit their medications into their lives,” she added. For diabetic patients who want a digital connection in their diabetes management, Walgreens provides Pharmacy Chat, and its mobile app includes pill reminder, script tracker, and refill-by-scan options.
Pharmacist intervention in diabetes care is clearly needed. Disease complications account for an estimated 61% to 80% of T2 diabetes-related costs in the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico, according to a recent IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report. In addition, between 4% and 15% of costs are linked to poor adherence.
Notably, on average, fewer than 40% of patients with T2D globally are achieving optimal levels of adherence (the extent to which a patient follows the prescribed interval and dose of a medicine regimen) and persistence (the time from initiation to discontinuation of a therapy), according to IMS Institute.
However, if therapy adherence and persistence are addressed, the U.S. Medicare population could save an estimated $4 billion annually in avoidable costs – 4% percent of America’s total healthcare spending, the IMS Institute found.