Pharmacists are making a difference in helping people with diabetes better manage their condition, according to the the American Pharmacists Association Foundation.

American Pharmacists Association Foundation, APhA Foundation, Project IMPACT: Diabetes, people with diabetes, pharmacists, diabetes epidemic, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Together on Diabetes, diabetes patients, Benjamin Bluml, diabetes care, consultations with pharmacists, diabetes medications and supplies, Mindy Smith, Lindsay Watson, collaborative care

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APhA: Pharmacists having an impact in diabetes epidemic

October 25th, 2013

WASHINGTON – Pharmacists are making a difference in helping people with diabetes better manage their condition, according to the the American Pharmacists Association Foundation.

Interim clinical results from Project IMPACT: Diabetes show statistically significant declines in A1C or blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and body mass index (BMI), the APhA Foundation reported. What's more, participating patients in 25 communities who had improved outcomes span nearly every socioeconomic class, insurance status and ethnicity.

In some of the care models for Project IMPACT:Diabetes, pharmacists and doctors meet together with patients.

Under the project, launched in 2010 in tandem with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation's Together on Diabetes, pharmacists were integrated into diabetes care teams in communities highly affected by diabetes. More than 2,000 diabetes patients engaged in one-on-one consultations with pharmacists, who monitor their A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI and help them better control the disease via proper medication use, exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle changes.

Project IMPACT: Diabetes provides participating self-insured employers, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), community and university-affiliated pharmacies, free clinics and other organizations in 25 communities with the guidance and support to succeed in their efforts to improve patient outcomes. And to ensure patients get comprehensive care, pharmacists collaborate with and refer patients to doctors and other health care providers.

"The interim clinical results of Project IMPACT: Diabetes demonstrate that when patients, pharmacists, physicians, diabetes educators and other members of the health care team work together, clinical outcomes improve and patients better manage their diabetes," Benjamin Bluml, senior vice president of research and innovation for the APhA Foundation, said in a statement. Bluml designed and leads Project IMPACT: Diabetes.

Besides consultations with pharmacists, other aspects of local care models in the project can include group educational classes, supermarket food tours, exercise programs, joint visits in which pharmacists and doctors meet with patients together, and incentives such as bus passes, grocery store gift cards, discounted or free healthy lunches at employer work sites, 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 health care system, especially in communities where access to care may be limited," said APhA Foundation executive director Mindy Smith stated. "Through programs like Project IMPACT: Diabetes, the APhA Foundation is transforming health care delivery in local communities and driving fundamental change in the U.S. health care system."

In particular, the project's patient-centered model of collaborative care can help communities with many uninsured, underinsured or needy patients, or areas with a high incidence of the disease, better address the diabetes epidemic, the APhA Foundation noted.

"Everyone with diabetes faces challenges such as adhering to prescribed medications, monitoring blood glucose levels, staying current with vaccines and foot and eye exams, and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle," explained Lindsay Watson, the APhA Foundation's director of applied innovation. "Working together with pharmacists empowers all types of patients — rich and poor, insured and uninsured, anywhere in America — to take the steps they need to understand and manage their diabetes while living healthier lives."