Pharmacists as Diabetes Educators: Meeting Patient Needs, Growing their Business, Reducing Health Care Costs

By Bill Popomaronis, RPh

With attendee evaluations like “I think this was the best program I have attended in 40+ years as a pharmacist” and “Very practical, useful information” warming my brain, it was a lot easier to board the plane from 75 degree San Diego to 9 degree Baltimore, in returning home from NCPA’s latest Diabetes Accreditation Standards-Practical Applications (DASPA) program.

No gold in “them thar hills” but surely many nuggets and tips to assist pharmacists in preparing their facilities for accreditation by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). AADE accreditation is the gateway for allowing community pharmacists to providing diabetes self-management education/training (DSME/T) to persons with diabetes and receiving reimbursement through Medicare Part B for these valuable services.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: diabetes self management training and education can NOT be delivered through the mail and NO ONE connects with their patients like independent community pharmacists!

Your competitive “purple cow”? You bet! And a great way to diversity a community pharmacy’s business in the face of declining prescription reimbursement rates.

The sad reality is that, in the coming years, there’s only going to be a greater need for community pharmacists to provide diabetes education to help people avoid costly complications from the disease. New estimates just released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than one-third of adults are estimated to have prediabetes. CDC also estimates that nearly 26 million Americans presently have diabetes, up from 23.6 million in 2008.

On a side note, I had a great time meeting pharmacists from all over the country in San Diego and, earlier, at the annual convention in Philadelphia. As an American of Greek descent I was very proud to meet first generation pharmacists with ties to Asia, Africa and Latin America.

I myself am a blond-haired, blue-eyed, Greek-speaking pharmacist, proud of his heritage and traditions but motivated, like all attendees, to learn new business skills to distinguish myself from the competition and help the communities we serve. Independent pharmacists face color-blind challenges of new competition, diminishing margins and operating efficiencies every day.

NCPAs diabetes education and long-term care niche business programs are designed for community pharmacists who see 2010 problems as 2011 opportunities to meet patient needs, reduce health care costs and grow their business.

I’m hoping to see more pharmacists at these programs in 2011. The schedule is set for 2011 DASPA, CAALLTC and other courses. And after the CE classes, if anyone wants to dance on the tables, break plates and drink ouzo with me…I’m ready to go!

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