PHILADELPHIA — An integrated wellness team approach to diabetes care can help patients not only improve their condition, but also lower their prescription costs, according to new research presented at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists' 21st annual Scientific and Clinical Congress in Philadelphia.
Researchers led by Gary Evans, director of research at Northeast Florida Endocrine and Diabetes Associates, developed a multidisciplinary program that enrolled adult patients with Type 2 diabetes. Patients were counseled in nutritional, fitness and behavioral elements of diabetes management in a customized 16-week curriculum while their doctors monitored body mass index, weight, HbA1C levels and diabetes medication dependence. Medications were reduced as needed to reduce the risk of low blood sugars.
Evans and his fellow researchers found that participants decreased their doses of insulin and oral medication by about 46% and 12%, respectively; reduced their 30-day prescription costs, on average, by nearly $143 per month; decreased their BMI by 3.07 and HbA1C by 0.7%. The researchers noted that HbA1C was reduced by an average of 1.3% for patients with a baseline HbA1C of 8% or more.
"The multidisciplinary program creates a timeframe that gives patients time to absorb the information, revisit strategies for management and engrave the behaviors into their minds," Evans said. "Covering those key elements is what it takes for patients to grasp and embrace the strategies to be successful and improve their condition. It is our hope that the success of this curriculum will create a pathway for intensive wellness programs to be recognized as medical benefits for diabetes patients by insurance companies The only way to be successful with long-term goals is to affect a lifestyle change."