Pharmacy coaching program improves Ohio health scores

August 29, 2011

An innovative pharmacy coaching program from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio has helped a number of patients better manage diabetes and hypertension.

An innovative pharmacy coaching program from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio has helped a number of patients better manage diabetes and hypertension.

Starting in 2008, 845 employees of the City of Cincinnati and the Kroger Co., a supermarket chain based in Cincinnati, received one-on-one meetings with specially-trained Kroger pharmacists. More than 600 employees with diabetes and hypertension were assessed by HealthCore, a subsidiary of Wellpoint, which is also the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, with very good results.

For example, before they began participating in the program, 52% of hypertension patients had average blood pressure readings of less than 140/90. After the program, 70% were under 140/90. Diabetic patients also had a 16% increase in their blood pressure goals and a 40% increase in attaining HbA1c goals of less than 7%.

In addition, cost savings per year for hypertension patients averaged $300 to $400 per patient. “Overall, office visits went up and ER visits and hospital inpatient visits went down, resulting in lower overall costs related to those enrolled in the Heart Healthy segment of the program,” said Mark Cziraky, vice president of industry-sponsored research for HealthCore.

The results demonstrate the value of the relationship between community pharmacists and their customers, according to Frannie McGowan, clinical development manager for Kroger. “Health care companies are now seeing the value both clinically and economically in recognizing pharmacists as accessible healthcare providers in the community,” McGowan said.

The Blue Cross program’s benefits are a value-based design, with incentives such as copay waivers and reductions. “This is one of the first programs of its kind where the health plan not only participates, but helped implement the program,” announced a statement from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Because of the success of the Ohio pilot project, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in California may begin a similar project with Kroger subsidiaries. “I’m hoping that by early 2012, we are going to have a few other large companies using this pharmacy coaching program to manage their employees and dependents with hypertension and diabetes,” said Barry Malinowski, MD, medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio.