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Joan Vos MacDonald is a freelance writer living in upstate New York.
Pharmacy chains are stepping up to help diabetes patients.
Pharmacists play an important role in a patient’s health-care team by helping to manage diabetes. National chain pharmacies have established or have strengthened programs that help pharmacists counsel their patients with diabetes.
“Pharmacists are often on the front lines of health care; for example, helping identify potential barriers to medication adherence and offering solutions to help encourage patients to take their medications as prescribed,” said Troyen Brennan, MD, Chief Medical officer at CVS Health.
Since medication adherence is essential to successfully managing diabetes, pharmacists are in a unique position to help. “Research shows that when patients take their medications as prescribed, they may avoid often costly medical complications, such as ER visits or hospital stays,” Brennan told Drug Topics.
CVS Health has launched Transform Diabetes Care, a comprehensive program to help pharmacy benefit management (PBM) clients improve the health outcomes of their members, lower pharmacy costs, and decrease medical costs by improving medication adherence. The program provides tailored support for members with diabetes.
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People with diabetes enroll in the program and receive support and coaching to help improve medication adherence, help track and control their A1c levels, and support healthy lifestyle behaviors. Enrolled members receive free comprehensive diabetes visits with A1c checks at MinuteClinic locations at no out-of-pocket cost. Members are offered a glucometer that shares their blood glucose levels with a pharmacist-led team, enabling the team to identify potential issues and intervene with one-on-one coaching.
To take advantage of Transform Diabetes Care, the patient must be a PBM member whose employer or health plan has enrolled in the program.
Walgreens pharmacists are trained in diabetes management with a strong focus on prevention and lifestyle factors, said Scott Goldberg, a Media Relations Senior Manager at Walgreens. “Pharmacists have been a helpful resource for people with diabetes for years,” he said. “We help patients with prediabetes or those with a family history of diabetes to understand how their nutrition, physical activity, and lifestyle choices can affect their chance of developing diabetes,” Goldberg told Drug Topics.
“Our pharmacists help to educate patients and can make actionable recommendations regarding lifestyle choices or behaviors-things that can positively impact their health to help reduce the risk of diabetes.” Walgreens pharmacists work with both newly diagnosed patients and those who have known they have diabetes for a while, he said. They are taught how to help patients understand the importance of lifestyle changes.
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Patients can discuss procedures and management options with Walgreens pharmacists and/or schedule a diabetes counseling and screening appointment with a health-care professional, usually a nurse practitioner, at a Walgreens Healthcare Clinic, Goldberg said. The chain offers coupons for related products, with additional savings given on the American Diabetes Association Alert Day and during November for Diabetes Awareness Month. Pharmacists can help patients find ways to fit medications and blood glucose testing into their lifestyle and schedule.
“When a patient’s entire health-care team is on the same page and working toward the same goal, the integrated team can work synergistically to ultimately help the patient manage their condition, resulting in a better health outcome,” said Goldberg.