Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Play Key Role in HMO's Diabetes Care Teams

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Play Key Role in HMO's Diabetes Care Teams

Article excerpt

Pharmacists are playing a key role in one health maintenance organization's attempt to better coordinate and document the various kinds of health care provided to diabetes patients.

In essence, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, an HMO based in Renton, Wash., uses multispecialty "teams" to document and coordinate each member's contribution to the care of each diabetes patient. Pharmacists take on various roles, including that of focusing on correcting any drug-related problems for these patients.

Dan Kent, a pharmacist who is a clinical diabetes specialist at the HMO, described his organization's diabetes program at a conference on integrating outcomes and disease management into pharmacy strategies. The conference was held recently in Boston and hosted by Cambridge Health Resources, a conference organization based in Newton Upper Falls, Mass.

Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound has 650,000 members who have access to 30 primary care clinics, one hospital, and several specialty and mental health units, said Kent. In recent years, his HMO has set up clinical "road maps" for managing various diseases.

For diabetes, the HMO has sorted out the various areas of diabetes-related care that a patient may need, including eye care, foot care, and kidney care, Kent explained. Dealing with patients' drugrelated needs and problems is part of the road map for treating this disease.

A "team" of different health-care providers was set up to address the various needs of diabetes patients and coordinate how these needs are met by different providers, said Kent. A physician serves as the team leader. Other team members include an R.Ph., a nurse, a social worker, a nutritionist, and other experts as needed.

The various health-care providers document on a computer system their observations and interventions on the diabetes patients they encounter, Kent noted. The R.Ph.'s roles in diabetes care teams include those of drug manager, identifier of high-risk patients, data manager, outcomes analyst, and educator.

The pharmacist's responsibilities to diabetes patients include gathering a comprehensive medication history, identifying and resolving drug-related problems, identifying and documenting patient care plans, developing and assessing outcomes targets with the rest of the team, and assessing the value of these activities to the patient, he added. …

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