Diabetes Care Begins with Informed Patients

Article excerpt

Efforts to raise patient awareness include a national campaign tour and a range of local initiatives

Designated by numerous organizations as the month for diabetesrelated public-relations campaigns, November brings a blitzkrieg of local and national events devoted to fostering public consciousness of the disease and its consequences. For information on National Diabetes Awareness Month provided by the National Diabetes Education Program (a partnership of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 200 public and private organizations), go to http://www.ndep. nih.gov/ whats-new/posting.aspx?id=2 3. For information on American Diabetes Month, an initiative of the American Diabetes Association, go to http://www.diabetes.org/in-my-community/ programs/american-diabetes-month/.

For many patients, type 2 diabetes can seem to develop suddenly after years of poor lifestyle decisions. One poster produced by the American Diabetes Association for American Diabetes Month states, "Most people don't think diabetes is very serious. Until it hits them."

The poster highlights the challenge healthcare professionals face when treating people with diabetes: All too often patients know very little about the condition and do not understand its ramifications. When closely monitored, the disease can be controlled, and for that reason, coupled with the ballooning numbers of patients across the United States, pharmacies and organizations across the nation have made diabetes care and education a priority.

Health Mart goes on the road

"If you look at the incidence of diabetes, it's a growing epidemic. Twenty-four million Americans have it and 57 million are likely to get it," said Tim Canning, president of Health Mart, a chain of more than 2,600 drugstores franchised by McKesson Corp.

According to Canning, this information provided part of the inspirtion for the Health Mart Healthy Living Tour, a national tour promoting diabetes awareness that is focusing on the role of pharmacists partnering in diabetes care. Sponsored by Health Mart Pharmacy, Bayer Diabetes Care, and Novo Nordisk, the multistate tour, which launched in June, features a mobile screening unit (photo above) that provides complimentary screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose, glycated hemoglobin, and total cholesterol to pharmacy patrons and community members.

"Granted we went to high-risk communities, [yet] I find it shocking that 49% of patients [screened on the Healthy Living Tour] have been at risk, according to ADA risk assessment."

The Healthy Living Tour will visit 16 states, stopping at community events and more than 60 Health Mart pharmacies across America. It ends November 17.

"The goal is to identify people at risk and encourage them to meet with their healthcare provider and pharmacist to manage diabetes," Canning said. "Patients are seeing the value of having a pharmacist on their overall healthcare team."

The tour seeks to call attention to the Diabetes Life Centers located on the premises of most of the Health Marts owned locally across the country.

"Pharmacists can teach patients how to test [insulin levels] properly and how often they should test, and can look at all of the medications patients are taking. Sometimes there is duplicated therapy, and in this economy, sometimes there is an opportunity to identify lower-cost therapies," Canning said.

Some tour events included the American Diabetes Association Walk for Diabetes in Madison, Wis., and the National Community Pharmacists Association meeting in Philadelphia. The tour's conclusion was scheduled for November to coincide with the month-long focus on diabetes and related issues occurring across the nation.

Canning was quick to point out, however, that diabetes awareness is not just a month-long event but requires ongoing dialogues.

A daily communications process

Terry Spears, RPh, owner of a Health Mart franchise in Vernon, Texas, described some of the educational efforts used in his pharmacy. …