When the Asheville Project launched in 1997, it involved just 47 patients. The idea was simple? yet bold for its time. The City of Asheville, NC, in partnership with the pharmacy department at Mission Hospitals, wanted to find out whether a proactive, collaborative, and patient-centered approach to diabetes management might result in healthier employees and lower health care costs.
Now, 10 years later, I think everyone would agree: the experiment worked. Asheville-based models have been deployed by 80 employers in 14 states, and interest in the initiative continues to grow. The project has expanded beyond diabetes to include other chronic diseases such as asthma and hypertension, as well as a broad range of prevention and employee wellness programs.
We at Pharmacy Times are pleased to have the support of Takeda Pharmaceuticals in presenting Asheville Today. In this supplement, we explore the reasons why this innovative collaboration has taken hold, looking at it through the eyes of its founders and stakeholders?community and hospital- based pharmacists, physicians, health educators, policymakers, employers, and patients.
We show how the Asheville pioneers tapped local expertise and brought everyone on board. We demonstrate how this approach can be adapted to the needs and resources of any community and highlight the pivotal role hospital pharmacy plays in that process. We offer advice on the training components necessary for pharmacists to assume their roles as health care coaches at the hub of disease management programs. We also hear testimonials from patients themselves, who credit the project with turning their lives around.
A decade after its inception, the Asheville model is now well established. Its success and replication nationwide attest to the crucial role pharmacists play as agents of change and leaders in the delivery of quality, cost-effective patient care services.
Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS
James R. Granato