Diabetes education: Investment reaps dividends

November 15, 2010

Ongoing diabetes education facilitated by qualified diabetes educators can reduce healthcare costs and improve health outcomes for those diagnosed with diabetes and those at high risk for the disease.

Key Points

In August, the association released results from a study of private insurance and Medicare claims that demonstrated the value of continuing diabetes education beyond the first year with fewer inpatient hospitalizations and improved compliance with diabetes medications.

The researchers compared 2005 to 2007 claims data from commercial insurance and Medicare plans of approximately 635,000 individuals with diabetes, analyzing the results in terms of those who received diabetes education and those who didn't. The results showed savings (per member per month) year after year in the group receiving diabetes education. The study was conducted by Solucia Consulting, a provider of analytical and consulting services to the healthcare financing industry.

Recognizing the need for more diabetes educators, this year the AADE partnered with the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) on a new diabetes self-management training program for community pharmacists. Available through the AADE, an online and live training course provides 25 continuing pharmacy education contact hours towards pharmacists' diabetes management accreditation.

In our cover story this month, we highlight some great examples of community pharmacists' efforts to raise patient awareness and provide continuing care and education.

Health Mart, a chain of more than 2,600 drugstores franchised by McKesson Corp., undertook a national tour to promote diabetes awareness and the role of pharmacists partnering in diabetes care. Health Mart's Healthy Living Tour targeted high-risk communities and provided complimentary screening for blood pressure, blood glucose, glycated hemoglobin, and total cholesterol for pharmacy patrons and community members. "I find it shocking that 49% of patients [screened on the Healthy Living Tour] have been at risk, according to ADA risk assessment," said Tim Canning, CEO of Health Mart.

Patti Smeelink, RPh, of East Paris Pharmacy, Grand Rapids, Mich., also found lack of education a major impediment to diabetes care. "What we have found is that the lower the income, the higher the body mass index. That has a lot to do with lack of education," she said. In her pharmacy, she offers diabetes-education classes and also tries alternative approaches for raising patient awareness about diabetes. These include taking her diabetes helper dog on visits to residents of retirement homes and holding special events at her pharmacy, such as a fashion show and a cookout featuring healthy food.

Ritesh Shah, RPh, and his wife, Asha Shah, RPh, owners of 5 pharmacies in New Jersey, work hard to educate patients about the effect of diabetes on their lives. They emphasize the need to wear proper shoes, to have annual eye and heart exams, and to determine a normal glucose level.

At the Medicine Shoppe in Two Rivers, Wis., owners Marvin Moore, PharmD (a Drug Topics board member), and Brian Jensen, RPh, take part in the Lakeshore Diabetes Program, an offshoot of the Asheville Project. They also participate in the Wisconsin Pharmacy Quality Collaborative Program, a pharmacy quality pay-for-performance demonstration project. According to Moore, patients are better at staying on track when they are part of the medication therapy management program and know that they will be coming in every 3 months and be held accountable.

Please take a few moments to read about their efforts. If you're not yet involved as a diabetes educator, consider the reward - healthier patients.

JULIA TALSMA
Editor-in-Chief, Drug Topics