NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 14, 2008

Diabetes care is a poster child for much of what's wrong with our health care system, which is good at handling acute crises but bad at preventing them, says Jacob Goldstein.  Pharmacists are angling to step into the breach and improve preventive care for diabetics.

For example:

  • In a project described in the March/April Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, employers in 10 U.S. cities agreed to waive copays for employees' diabetes meds, and to fund regular meetings between pharmacists and diabetic employees.
  • A year after the project launched, 914 patients who had been enrolled for at least three months saw their hemoglobin A1C, a key measure of health for diabetics, fall on average to 7.2 percent from 7.6 percent, a significant improvement.

The pharmacist is really helping people stay on track, just like a coach would for whatever skill you want to choose, says William Ellis, CEO of the American Pharmacists Association foundation.  Patients typically meet with pharmacists once every few months. Costs vary, but a 30-minute session usually runs somewhere between $60 and $90, Ellis said.

A similar project in Asheville, N.C., a few years back suggested that employers save money in the long run, because improving diabetics' health on the front end cuts the rate of expensive hospital procedures that are more common when diabetes is poorly controlled.

Source: Jacob Goldstien, "Paying Pharmacists to Keep Diabetics On Track" Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2008.

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