Ohio State College of Pharmacy Diabetes Initiative Produces Impressive Clinical Results in Patients

Daniel Helfand
Stuart Beatty, PharmD

Pharmacists may begin to play a more pivotal role in diabetes patients’ healthcare teams based on results released last month from a national research initiative showing significant improvement for patients. The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy is a partner in the research initiative; The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Martha Morehouse and CarePoint East General Internal Medicine Clinics serve as clinical sites for the project.

The initiative, entitled Project IMPACT: Diabetes, was launched in 2010 by the American Pharmacists Association Foundation (APhA) in collaboration with the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to integrate pharmacists in the treatment process of patients suffering from diabetes who have low health literacy or lack the resources for traditional care.

Initial reports from Project IMPACT: Diabetes indicate that patients lowered several key statistics associated with managing diabetes, including reducing A1c results, a blood test that determines average blood sugar over the past three months, by 0.7 percent; systolic blood pressure by 1.9 mmHg; and body mass index by 0.2 percent in more than 1500 patients across the 25 sites. Results from the Ohio State site showed a 1.4 percent lowering in A1c in the 98 patients enrolled.

“I felt as though we would be an attractive clinical site for Project IMPACT: Diabetes because our clinic site has had a diabetes clinic in place since 2008 with preliminary data collected,” said Stuart Beatty, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at Ohio State. “Ohio State’s clinic had a team-based approach that involved practicing medical professionals, students and residents, so we knew we could help carry out this initiative effectively.”

Through Project IMPACT: Diabetes, physicians and pharmacists meet together with patients to assess their condition and current disease management, such as medicine adherence, blood sugar monitoring, dietary habits and exercise routine. After the interview, the team works with the patient to develop an effective medication plan and set specific, attainable goals regarding diabetes management until the next scheduled appointment.

“Our diabetes clinics mainly serve lower-income patients who are underinsured or uninsured,” said Beatty. “The average baseline A1c of our patients is 9.9 percent, with some patients as high as 15 percent, so the patients we see in this program are poorly controlled prior to our team-based clinic approach.”

“The services we provide include educational materials and working with the patients through every step of the process, so they can stick to the plan they agree on with their practitioners. Our pharmacists personally call or email patients in between appointments to check on their progress, which I think is a big part of our success.”

Beatty believes the next step is to maintain the practices they have put in place over the past two years and continue to collect patient data to better monitor results. He also believes continued expansion to include more patients and other facilities will aid in improving many health outcomes for patients with diabetes.

“These results clearly show that pharmacists, through a collaborative effort, can help patients better manage diabetes,” said Beatty. “Additionally, the pharmacy residents and students who participate in this program have been crucial to its success while learning how to work collaboratively with physicians.”

Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy is one of 25 partners in the initiative. The project collects data from clinical sites in 25 different areas of the country, something Beatty said is vital.

“Before Project IMPACT, there were similar diabetes projects published, but they received criticisms that their practices were only effective in specific populations,” said Beatty. “The Project IMPACT: Diabetes initiative is allowing everyone to see that, regardless of patients’ demographics, pharmacists can have a significant impact on the health of patients with diabetes when they become an integrated member of the patient care team.”

To learn more about the process and people behind Ohio State's Project IMPACT: Diabetes site, watch the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI_ODq6pU5w.