Partnering with patients to manage diabetes and other chronic diseases

The life of a patient with diabetes is a juggling act to maintain good glycemic control — from daily blood-glucose testing to eating healthy and staying active. This is a complex and sometimes inconvenient task requiring significant commitment. Today, the American Diabetes Association estimates 60 percent of diabetes patients do not adhere to their treatment regimen.

Because patients with diabetes spend only an average of six hours a year with their doctors, they need more help than ever to navigate therapy choices and maintain a healthy lifestyle. As community pharmacists, we’re often the front line of patient care, having frequent conversations to help patients stay adherent to their medications and successfully manage diabetes and other chronic diseases, including COPD, high cholesterol and hypertension.

As a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of McKesson’s network of pharmacists trained in behavioral coaching, I work closely with patients every day. Here are a few recent examples of how I’ve coached patients on the proper use of medications and lifestyle requirements to manage their diabetes:

• As I was filling a patient’s prescription recently, I noticed he was a week late in picking up his refill. When I asked why, he told me that he needed to make it last longer to keep his monthly costs down.   Working together, we were able to identify a co-pay offset program and get him enrolled right away so he can take each dose as directed.
• One of my longtime patients was having difficulty with her insulin injections with the traditional vial and syringe, so I introduced her to a new insulin pen as an alternative. Not only does it allow her to set the right dose, she has found the injection process much easier and nearly painless.
• A newly diagnosed patient came in feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to start controlling her diabetes. Through a series of coaching sessions, we’ve developed a long-term plan to manage her condition and know what to expect when taking her medications. Additionally, I introduced her to the Diabetes Life Center we maintain at Woodstock Health Mart Pharmacy, featuring a variety of over-the-counter health and lifestyle products she’ll need to be successful. 

Like many community pharmacists, I believe supporting our patients, starts — not ends — with the prescription. I encourage you to position yourself to patients living with a chronic disease as a partner dedicated to help them successfully manage their condition AND maintain a healthy lifestyle. 


Jonathan G. Marquess, PharmD, CDE, is a pharmacist and owner of Woodstock Health Mart Pharmacy in Georgia.  Follow Jonathan on Twitter @SugarDetective1. To find other Health Mart pharmacies that offer this type of support, visit www.healthmart.com

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