Report highlights benefits of pharmacist interventions in diabetes care
Canada’s largest drug chain said Tuesday that the study, “Sustainable Solutions Report: Pharmacist Interventions in Diabetes,” demonstrates how pharmacists supported diabetes care and helped improve health outcomes for patients participating in the research. The report also illustrates how these benefits could be expanded to all Canadians with diabetes.
In the study, Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists used the results of a five-minute, A1C finger-prick blood test to provide Great-West Life health plan members with lifestyle counseling, medication recommendations and physician referrals.
For patients who returned for a second test, the study found that the number of patients who reached their target tripled after the first intervention with a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist. Also, about half of all patients with a follow-up appointment had a clinically significant reduction in their blood sugar levels, and the number of patients who met their target increased fourfold after the pharmacist consulted with their doctor. What’s more, of the patients who were not initially at target and received a therapy change, half reached target by their follow-up appointment.
The report also included supporting research in which Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists made interventions that escalated depending on the severity of the A1C test results. These interventions included discussions on diet, nutrition, exercise and insulin, as well as adjusting medication, follow-up appointments or physician referrals.
“Diabetes management is just one more part of health care where pharmacists can make a significant difference,” Mike Motz, president of Shoppers Drug Mart, said in a statement. “By working together, we can develop sustainable solutions that will have positive impacts on the health of Canadians, all while improving the value delivered by our health care system.”
The Sustainable Solutions Report noted that there’s a huge opportunity for Canadians with diabetes to access care and improve their health outcomes through pharmacist services. In the report, Shoppers Drug Mart and Great-West Life made recommendations to facilitate and broaden diabetes care services provided by pharmacists, including the following:
• Expand collaborative opportunities for pharmacists to assess patients’ risk of developing diabetes.
• Widen the scope of practice in all provinces to enable pharmacists to conduct A1C tests for eligible patients and access test results, giving diabetes patients greater access to health care.
• Enable pharmacists to structure and support a plan for diabetes patients to self-manage their condition through the use of A1C test results and other diabetes assessment tools.
• Allow pharmacists in all provinces to adapt prescriptions to help improve patient outcomes.
• Strengthen opportunities for pharmacist-physician communication and collaboration to better support patients in attaining lifestyle and health outcome goals.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Shoppers Drug Mart, who shares in our vision for improved health information, health awareness and health action plans for Canadians with diabetes, through our joint Diabetes Support Program,” stated Stefan Kristjanson, executive vice president at Great-West Life. “Great-West Life is taking an active role in helping plan sponsors find solutions to help keep their plan members healthy and their group benefits plan sustainable through our prescription drug management program, which includes the joint Diabetes Support Program.”
The report, released as part of Pharmacist Awareness Month, pointed out that these findings are significant because diabetes rates in Canada are escalating. In 2010, an estimated 2.7 million Canadians had diabetes, and that number is forecast to rise to 4.2 million by 2020. The cost associated with treating diabetes patients was estimated at $12.2 billion in 2010 and is projected to climb to $16.9 billion by 2020.
In addition, the Sustainable Solutions Report noted that rising diabetes rates will cost companies and health insurance providers significant amounts in benefits payouts. Private drug plans spend about four times more per capita on prescription drugs for employees with type 2 diabetes than for all others. Also, complications from diabetes account for more than 80% of the associated costs of the disease, and interventions by pharmacists can prevent or at least delay those complications, including serious events such as heart attack or stroke.
“The Canadian Diabetes Association is pleased to see innovative models of community-based diabetes care such as this pharmacist intervention being developed and implemented. Effective self-management of diabetes is critical to the prevention of the downstream complications of diabetes such as blindness, amputation and kidney failure,” commented Jan Hux, chief science officer for the Canadian Diabetes Association. “People living with diabetes need support from all parts of the health care system to achieve their goals and live well with their disease. Pharmacists with enhanced diabetes training provide a skilled and accessible resource to help people with diabetes achieve their health goals.”