BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The role of pharmacists hasn't received much attention in the debate on the cost of health care. But national and regional studies show that when pharmacists directly participate in patient care, they significantly reduce treatment costs and improve outcomes.
A study on diabetic patients by the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences identified cost savings with improvements in a key indicator of glucose control in diabetes patients, the hemoglobin A1C measurement. The A1C provides a three-month average of the amount of excess glucose in the blood. Higher A1Cs indicate that a patient is at higher risk for developing long-term complications associated with diabetes, such as kidney disease or vision problems.
Published last spring in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, the UB study of 50 patients with Type 2 diabetes demonstrated that in just six months clinical pharmacists, in collaboration with primary care providers, were able to significantly reduce patients' A1C levels.
In the UB study, patients' A1C levels were reduced by an average of 1.1 percent, from an average of 8.5 percent to 7.4 percent, one year after being enrolled in the program, while also improving the overall metabolic profile.
"Our results show that enhancing the patient's access to care through collaborative physician-pharmacist relationships can yield lower blood glucose levels, improve the overall metabolic profile and reduce costs to the payer," says Erin Slazak, PharmD, UB clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice and board certified pharmacotherapy specialist.
These clinical improvements occurred while monthly costs per patient went down by approximately $212, around $2,500 per year, even though there were nominal increases in the cost of medications prescribed.
The key to success?
"Patients had unlimited access to pharmacists throughout the year," says Slazak.'/>"/>
|Contact: Ellen Goldbaum|
University at Buffalo