Multidisciplinary Diabetes Program Initial Results

The “Diabetes Ten City Challenge,” a program that brings together employers, pharmacists and people with diabetes to work together to reign in diabetes- related health care costs as well as improve patient health is showing promise, according to a report released today by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation. Conducted by the APhA with support from GlaxoSmithKline, Inc., 30 employers in 10 U.S. cities established a voluntary health benefit for employees, dependents and retirees with diabetes. As part of the program, employers used incentives, such as waiving co-payments for diabetes medications and supplies, to encourage people to manage their diabetes with the help of local pharmacist “coaches” who help patients track their blood sugar levels and cholesterol, and to control their disease through exercise, nutrition and lifestyle changes. These specially trained pharmacists, who are matched to patients, also communicate with the patients' doctor if needed. Data released today on 573 diabetic patients enrolled in the program for at least one year show that average total health care costs were reduced annually by nearly $1,100 per patient, or 7.2 percent, compared with projected costs without the program. Patients also saved an average of $593 per year on their diabetes medications and supplies. Significant improvements in key health measures were also evident, including a 23% increase in the number of patients achieving their goal blood sugar level set by American Diabetes Association; an 11 percent increase in the number of patients achieving optimal cholesterol levels; and a 39-percent increase in the number with patients getting their blood pressure under control. (Source: Reuters Health)