Nearly 27 million American consumers have diabetes. Ninety percent are afflicted with type 2, the preventable form of the disease.
Thanks to a partnership with UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn., a selection of retail pharmacists is working to help sufferers measurably lower blood glucose levels over a sustained period — reducing the risk of complications like heart disease, nerve disease, blindness and amputations — at no cost.
Called the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, the partnership was launched in 2010 with the YMCA and Walgreens, Deerfield, Ill., to educate those covered by UnitedHealth Group employer insurance plans at a community level, covering both diabetes and obesity.
Once in the alliance, retailers participate in the Diabetes Control Program, through which pharmacists provide one-on-one consultations every three months.
“Patients have been very receptive to receiving diabetes care at community pharmacies,” said Jason Reames, clinical banner leader for Cub and Shop ’n Save pharmacies, which have been in the alliance since April. “Our patients trust their pharmacist, so they are more likely to work with us to better manage their condition.”
UnitedHealth Group was planning on this type of consumer reaction when it modeled the program after The Asheville Project, a five-year pilot program in the city of Asheville, N.C., which demonstrated that pharmacists could help individuals take better control of their diabetes.