APhA Foundation project uses collaborative care to target diabetes among vulnerable populations

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — A project by the philanthropic wing of the American Pharmacists Association to include pharmacists on diabetes care teams in highly affected and underserved communities has produced significant decreases in blood-sugar levels among patients, according to results released Thursday.

The APhA Foundation announced the release of interim results of Project Impact: Diabetes, in which more than 2,000 patients in 25 communities who are uninsured, underinsured, homeless or living below the poverty line receive care from teams that include pharmacists, physicians, diabetes educators and other health professionals as part of a self-management program.

"The interim clinical results of Project Impact: Diabetes demonstrate that when pharmacists, physicians, diabetes educators and other members of the healthcare team work together, patients better manage their diabetes," APhA Foundation SVP research and innovation Benjamin Bluml said. Blum designed and leads the project.

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, with 200,000 dying annually and millions more at risk of developing diabetes-related complications like heart disease and stroke, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputations. As with other health conditions, the most economically vulnerable patients also are the most vulnerable to the disease.

Under Project Impact: Diabetes, each community has a "champion" who works with an APhA Foundation community coordinator to customize implementation of the project and engage patients, healthcare professionals, payers and other local resources as they work to improve care. The foundation provides training and access to clinical data management tools and its Patient Self-Management Credential, which helps pharmacists identify each patient’s knowledge strengths and areas for improvement and allows providers to customize the education they provide to prioritize and address knowledge gaps.

Local care models include one-on-one consultations, educational classes, grocery store food tours, exercise programs, joint visits where pharmacists and physicians meet with patients together, and incentives like bus passes, grocery store gift cards, discounted or free healthy lunches at employee worksites and discounted co-payments for diabetes medications and supplies.

"The occurrence of diabetes is at epidemic proportions, and it has a devastating impact on our healthcare system, especially in communities where access to care may be limited," APhA Foundation executive director Mindy Smith said. "Through programs like Project Impact: Diabetes, the APhA Foundation is transforming healthcare delivery in local communities and driving fundamental change in the U.S. healthcare system."


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