Diabetes education programs are on the rise across the country

October 13, 2008

Patient education and self-management are key to successful diabetes care. Pharmacies around the country are initiating classes and programs and offering special supplies and products geared to people with diabetes.

Key Points

What's the most important element in successful diabetes care? Diabetes specialists say patient education and self-management. Getting the patient actively involved makes the difference between managing diabetes successfully and dealing with premature cardiovascular disease, amputation, blindness, renal failure, and other complications.

"Ninety-eight percent of the success of any patient is up to that patient," said pharmacist Jerry Meece, certified diabetes educator and director of clinical services at Plaza Pharmacy and Wellness Center in Gainesville, Texas. "It's only the remaining 2 percent of success that is dependent on the help of healthcare professionals."

The American Diabetes Association seldom talks about Asheville or any other specific management program. But ask what elements are vital for successful diabetes management, and patient self-management tops the list. "Patient education and patient self-management are key," said Catherine Harvey, DPH, RN, and ADA executive vice president for community programs and publications. "People have a medical team that helps them with the right combination of medications, diet, supplies, and so on. But it is really up to individuals to manage themselves and their disease. Self-management is about how not to live life as a diabetic but how to integrate diabetes into your life."

The ADA is less concerned about where patients learn about diabetes than that they get the self-management skills needed to keep their diabetes under control. Many ADA-approved patient education programs take place in schools and community centers. Pharmacies are another viable venue.

Independent pharmacies

A long-time Good Neighbor Pharmacy owner, Carranza joined AmerisourceBergen's Diabetes Shoppe program about five years ago. The wholesaler provided a two-day diabetes certificate program designed by Jerry Meece that covers the nuts and bolts of diabetes care and patient education. "That training is what differentiates these stores," Scott Robinson, director of AmerisourceBergen's business coaching operations, said. "Unless you provide the patient with a very specific resource, there is no reason for them to come back. We want to make the pharmacist the resource that patients come back for."

Carranza also added special diabetic products such as sugar-free over-the-counter (OTC) formulations, sugar-free candies, footwear, oral products, topical creams, free glucose meters, and extended lines of diabetic supplies. He offers bi-monthly classes with a certified diabetes educator and is available for personal consultations. "A lot of people end up coming to my classes. They tell their friends, who also end up coming to my classes and to my two stores. It is paying off with a larger and very loyal customer base," Carranza said.

Carranza sees it every day. "I get people who drive miles out of their way," he said. "They drive by all the chains because I carry the special products they need, but mostly it's because I can give them the special help they need. I can answer their questions and give them information that they didn't even know they needed."