Program Seeks To Improve Care, Lower Costs By Directly Involving Pharmacists In Patient Care

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USA Todayon Monday examined a nationwide pilot program at several federallyfunded community health centers that seeks to "show that more directlyinvolving pharmacists with patients can improve care and lower the costof treating patients with chronic illnesses." At the JWCH Clinic at the Weingart Centerin Los Angeles, patients with diabetes who participated in the programduring the past two years reduced their blood sugar levels by 3.7percentage points and decreased their blood pressure to near normallevels. In addition, patients with diabetes who participated in theprogram at the El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, Ariz., aftersix months had lower blood sugar levels than patients who receivedstandard care.

Such results "could help lead to more suchefforts, as both government health programs and private insurers lookfor ways to control some of the most costly diseases," and supportersmaintain that prevention of complications from diabetes could savelives and "reduce hospitalization and other medical costs forinsurers," according to USA Today. Jimmy Mitchell, director of the Office of Pharmacy Affairs at the Health Resources and Services Administration, called the program the "future of the practice of pharmacy" (Appleby, USA Today, 9/30).
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