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Walgreens: Pharmacist interaction boosts outcomes
December 9th, 2010
DEERFIELD, Ill. – A study by Walgreen Co. found that people with diabetes who participated in a disease management program involving face-to-face interaction with a pharmacist showed high levels of patient engagement and vastly improved clinical outcomes.
Walgreens said chief medical officer Cheryl Pegus highlighted the findings of the study, dubbed "Dimensions," at the World Research Group Diabetes Prevention and Management Forum for Health Plans and Employers, where she was a featured speaker.
The presentation by Pegus and Michael Taitel, director of health outcomes and analytics at Walgreens, about the benefit of pharmacist intervention on clinical outcomes for patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases marked the first time that the Dimensions study data were made public, according to the drug store chain.
Launched in 2008, Dimensions centered on Walgreens working with employers at work-site pharmacies. Specially trained pharmacists provided patients and employees diabetes education at the sites, including initial one-on-one consultations and monthly follow-ups. The results of the pilot showed substantial patient improvement, as the percent of participants with combined HbA1C, blood pressure and cholesterol values at clinical guideline goals surged from 11.8% to 21.8%, an 85% improvement, according to Walgreens.
What's more, at 18 months, more than 90% of patients stayed engaged in the program, and patients reported 100% overall satisfaction with the program — with some stating that it had been "life-altering," Walgreens noted.
The positive results of Dimensions led Walgreens in January to launch its Optimal Wellness program in four markets, which has now expanded to nine markets. Building on Dimensions, Optimal Wellness serves as a self-care educational program for people with type 2 diabetes, with a special focus on patient engagement and a personalized approach to adherence and self-management, Walgreens said. Optimal Wellness capitalizes on the power of face-to-face interactions with a personal health coach at multiple Walgreens locations through a "hub and spoke" model, the company explained.
Pegus cited the growing prevalence of diabetes in the United States, the rising shortage of primary care doctors, research on patient trust in pharmacists and proven outcomes from the Asheville Project on pharmacist-led medication therapy management as contributing factors to the development of Walgreens approach and the the Dimensions pilot.
"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 stated at the conference. "Walgreens recognized that with its unrivaled ability to reach patients where they both work and live, diverse team of 70,000 health care service providers and understanding of the power of face-to-face interactions on health outcomes, we had a unique opportunity to help patients learn how to live healthier and better lives."
In April, Walgreens allied with UnitedHealth Group and the YMCA of the USA as a founding partner of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA), a collaboration aimed at treating and managing diabetes. Walgreens said that for the initiative, it customized many of the Optimal Wellness program elements, such as diabetes education and behavioral intervention, risk-factor reduction, health promotion and regular examinations for early signs of complications. The DCPA is available in eight markets in six states.
"The success we have seen so far with Optimal Wellness underscores the type of pharmacy, health and wellness initiative that Walgreens is increasingly exploring as we look for innovative ways to help address areas of unmet patient need," Pegus added. "We are excited to expand this program to additional communities and disease states and build on this momentum to continue leveraging our broad offerings."