Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) joined forces with the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) in September to bring diabetes counseling closer to patients.

“The pharmacist manages the medications and many are already providing therapeutic shoes and sugar-free medications,” said Bill Popomaronis, NCPA’s vice president of long term and home health care pharmacy services. “Now, with the diabetes self management education and training (DSME/T), they can help patients learn to adjust their lifestyles to remain well.”

Under the partnership, pharmacists undergo 16 hours of training that will allow them to serve as certified instructors within an accredited diabetes education program. The program does not make pharmacists certified diabetes educators (CDEs), but it can serve as an initial step.

With an estimated 23 million Americans with diabetes and 57 million believed to be at risk for the disease, preparing pharmacists to step into a more educational role is a smart move.

“The community pharmacy is a natural place where patients can go for training,” said Lana Vukovljak, the AADE’s CEO. “There is such a huge need and there is a shortage of diabetes educators.”

Once the training is complete, pharmacists partner with healthcare professionals like CDEs, dieticians and physicians to offer diabetes management counseling in classroom settings for up to 30 people. Pharmacists can instruct patients or coordinate the program.

“The pharmacy provides a steady flow of persons with diabetes (for the program) and they are already well-received by community professionals and trusted by their patients,” said Popomaronis.

Traditionally, DSME/T programs have been offered through hospitals, a model that is expensive to sustain and inconvenient for the patient.

“Like everybody else, hospitals are tightening their belts as Medicare reimbursements have gone down,” said Popomaronis. “So, they are not providing as much of this education, which leads to a vacuum that has to be filled.”