Pharmacists who intervene with diabetes patients are having a clear and positive impact on clinical outcomes, a new study from Walgreens found.
In a presentation last month, two Walgreens healthcare leaders unveiled the results of a groundbreaking pilot project on pharmacy-based diabetic care. Walgreens launched the project, called Dimensions, at its worksite pharmacies in 2008.
The two executives, Walgreens chief medical officer Cheryl Pegus and director of health outcomes and analytics Michael Taitel, unveiled the findings of the Dimensions pilot at the World Research Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Management Forum for Health Plans and Employers. The study, they said, established that diabetes patients who participated in a disease management program, leveraging face-to-face interactions with a pharmacist, demonstrated high levels of patient engagement — more than 90% — and significantly improved clinical outcomes.
“Chronic disease is arguably the most pressing area of concern for health care in the United States, and diabetes is one of the most difficult, and most costly, chronic conditions to manage,” Pegus said.
Dimensions centered on Walgreens working with employers at its worksite pharmacies. To that end, specially trained Walgreens pharmacists provided patients and employees diabetes education at the sites, including initial one-on-one consultations and monthly follow-ups.
The results of the program “showed significant patient improvement,” Walgreens reported, “as the percent of participants with combined HbA1C, blood pressure and cholesterol values at clinical guideline goals increased from 11.8% to 21.8%.” That marked an 85% improvement, Pegus noted.
Equally striking was the retention rate. At 18 months, more than 90% of patients stayed engaged in the program, according to Pegus and Taitel. Patients also had “exceptionally positive” reactions to the pharmacist interventions, the two execs said, reporting 100% overall satisfaction with the pilot.
The positive results of Dimensions led to the launch in four markets of the Walgreens Optimal Wellness program, which since has been expanded to five more markets as a self-care educational program for people with Type 2 diabetes.
In April 2010, Walgreens took the concept still further, partnering with UnitedHealth Group and the YMCA of the USA to launch the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance. Walgreens called that effort a comprehensive collaboration to treat and manage diabetes.