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MVA study shows benefits of pharmacy care in diabetes treatment

Jun. 18, 2015, 9:02 AM

by Matt Schorr

A recent study performed by researchers working with the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) showed that underserved patients with sub-optimally controlled type 2 diabetes who were cared for by pharmacists were more adherent to their medication regimen and had better blood sugar control than those who did not have a pharmacist in their care team.

The study, “Assessing the Effectiveness of Pharmacist-Directed Medication Therapy Management in Improving Diabetes Outcomes in Patients with Poorly Controlled Diabetes,” was published in the the journal The Diabetes Educator.

Rebecca Hopper, Pharm.D., Saint Thomas Medical Partners Family Health Center Pharmacist Supervisor, spearheaded the study. She said it began as an outgrowth of being involved with other clinics and learning about what was being done with diabetes in the MVA and the Diabetes Improvement Project.

“We wanted to confirm if a clinical pharmacist’s involvement in patient care improved outcomes,” she explained.

Hopper partnered with Consuelo H. Wilkins, M.D., MSCI, executive director of the MVA, along with supporting collaborators, on the study. MVA team members and pharmacy support staff reviewed medical records of 100 patients, half of whom were exposed to enhanced pharmacy care. Enhanced pharmacy care included educating patients with new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes on the risks of the disease and the benefit of treatment, and the necessity for medical adherence. The other half of patients received standard care from their primary care providers.

The data was analyzed by Jeannine Skinner, Ph.D., a senior research associate at the MVA.

“Study results show enhanced pharmacy care was associated with better blood sugar control and better medication adherence,” Skinner said. “This study provided preliminary support for the role of pharmacists in the management of chronic health conditions.”

Hopper was pleased with the results of the study, saying it was a great opportunity for her to show that pharmacist care can make a significant difference in a patient’s treatment.

“Working with the MVA has been such a privilege,” she said. “Collaborative practice, I think, always works in the best interest of patients.”

Hopper, Wilkins, Skinner, Brett Poe, Alaina Boyer, Ph.D., and pharmacist student Andrew Keller conducted the study.

Hopper’s next step is to develop a standardized protocol for enhanced pharmacy care.

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