Beginning in 2008, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield teamed up with Kroger pharmacies to launch a program aimed at helping 845 Cincinnati and the Kroger employees learn to manage diabetes and hypertension. The employees received individual attention via one-on-one meetings with Kroger pharmacists specially trained to address their needs. The results were very promising.
Of the hypertension patients, 52% started the program with blood pressure readings averaging higher than 140/90. After the program, 70% of the patients had considerably lowered their blood pressure. In the diabetic patients, 40% had attained HbA1c levels of 7% or less, and 16% had improved their blood pressure.
But the real story here is in the cost savings. The patients saved money – an average of $350 per patient – office visits went up, ER and hospital stays went down. Evidence of prevention and patient education at work. By extension, this also meant less loss time at work, fewer sick days, and healthier, more alert workers, conditions that always benefit employers.
Frannie McGowan, clinical development manager for Kroger, points out that the results highlight the value of the pharmacist/customer relationship. “Health care companies are now seeing the value both clinically and economically in recognizing pharmacists as accessible healthcare providers in the community,” McGowan said.
This is great news for pharmacies. In the shifting sands of healthcare, with patient dollars stretched to the limit by an endless parade of specialized medicine requiring multiple doctor and lab visits and the high cost of prescription medicines, hiring a friendly pharmacist willing to bolster patient education with minimum hoopla and maximum accessibility is a smart move for retailers.
Since the program was such a success in Ohio, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in California are considering partnering with Kroger subsidiaries to launch a similar program, and the company hopes to start other programs by partnering with other large companies. By next year, the program might be available all over. Good news for both patients and the future of pharmacy.
Does your pharmacy have a diabetes and hypertension educator? Diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the most prevalent and fastest growing chronic conditions in the country, and both can be managed successfully by a combination of medicine and lifestyle changes. Bringing pharmacists into the picture is a simple matter of conveniently reaching more people with less effort. Are you willing to participate in this kind of program?