Health workers and physicians don’t need to ask whether there’s a need for diabetes products and services. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India had 69.2 million people living with diabetes in 2015.
The question physicians and pharmacists should be asking themselves are how they can best serve the patients who suffer from diabetes, a prevalent chronic medical illness that can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, circulatory problems, blindness and more.
Types of diabetes products physicians and pharmacists should offer to patients:
Medication - both injectible and oral - as well as the products to deliver injectable medications such as pen needles and insulin syringes
Self-monitoring blood glucose supplies so patients and caregivers can test and monitor blood glucose levels including blood glucose meters, test strips lancets and lancing devices.
Other over-the-counter, non-prescription items related to lifestyle. These may include fast-acting glucose, skin and foot care products, wound-care products, sugar-free OTC medications like cough and cold remedies, nutritional products, and related durable medical equipment.
Why patient education is central to the pharmacy’s role in diabetes management?
In theory—and unfortunately, sometimes in practice—patients with diabetes can walk out of pharmacies with the right medications and OTC diabetes products and not improve their health status. What’s missing is patient education and engagement. That’s the disease management function that pharmacies and pharmacists should embrace.
The role of patient educator can play out in a number of ongoing areas, too. For example, the risk factors associated with diabetes, according to the CDC, include smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Pharmacies can support their patients with diabetes with clinical services like nutritional counseling and smoking cessation classes that can mitigate those risk factors and offering flu and other key immunizations to their patients and family members
Pharmacies can also support patients with diabetes with prescription and non-prescription products directed at the same risk factors. Dietary supplements and home blood pressure monitors are just two examples. Patients with diabetes should be comfortable going into a pharmacy not just for their medications and their testing supplies but for anything related to their chronic medical condition.
Institutions and physicians that offer comprehensive disease management programs for patients with diabetes will become the pharmacies of choice in their service area, with the net result being better health for patients and better business health for themselves.