Pharmacists Positively Impact Diabetes Outcomes Through Collaborative Care Teams

September 29, 2014
Katie Eder, Senior Editor

Pharmacists who participate in community-based diabetes care teams play a pivotal role in reducing A1C levels among patients with poorly controlled diabetes.

Pharmacists who participate in community-based diabetes care teams play a pivotal role in reducing A1C levels and other clinical markers among patients with poorly controlled diabetes, according to the final results of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation’s Project IMPACT: Diabetes study.

For the research, which was featured in the September/October 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, Benjamin M. Bluml, BSPharm, senior vice president for research and innovation at the APhA Foundation, and his coauthors evaluated the impact of integrating pharmacists into interdisciplinary care teams across 25 US communities with high incidences of uncontrolled diabetes or limited access to quality diabetes care.

As members of the diabetes care team, pharmacists “educated patients on the pathology of diabetes and how medications work to improve health; taught insulin injection techniques and the importance of medication adherence; promoted healthy lifestyles; and reinforced health goals and monitored progress toward those goals,” the study authors wrote. Over the 1-year care period, a total of 1,836 patients from diverse communities and practice settings visited pharmacists either one-on-one or in collaboration with other health care team members an average of 5.2 times, with each consultation averaging 39.4 minutes in length.

The results of the collaborative intervention indicated statistically significant and clinically relevant decreases in mean A1C of 0.8%, as well as statistically significant yet non-clinically relevant decreases in low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol of 7.1 mg/dL, triglycerides of 23.7 mg/dL, and total cholesterol of 8.8 mg/dL.

“The final results of Project IMPACT: Diabetes expand our understanding of the pivotal role pharmacists play on interdisciplinary care teams,” Bluml and his coauthors concluded. “Pharmacists are available in nearly every community across the United States and are therefore ideally positioned for integration into health care teams that help patients manage chronic diseases such as diabetes.”

However, resource scarcity would dictate a community’s ability to retain pharmacists’ services, since only 40% of the 25 communities in the study indicated that pharmacists were compensated for the services they provided. Despite the questionable financial landscape, 92% of those communities said they “intend to sustain the services implemented as part of Project IMPACT: Diabetes because they believe the positive results warrant the added cost,” the study authors wrote.

The APhA Foundation launched Project IMPACT: Diabetes in 2010 with support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Together on Diabetes initiative.