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Physician-Pharmacist Collaboration Improves Diabetes Outcomes, Reduces Costs

October 08, 2020

Physicians collaborating with pharmacists in primary care is associated with improved diabetes outcomes and substantial cost savings from decreased healthcare use, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

“The significant cost savings associated with the reduction in all-cause emergency department visits and hospitalizations as well as the improvement in diabetes outcomes found in this study could be utilized to justify the addition of a pharmacist to a primary care clinic,” researchers wrote, “and support expansion of existing clinical pharmacist services.” 

The retrospective, observational study focused on patients at the Kansas-based Ascension Medical Group Via Christi. Investigators analyzed health outcomes for 385 patients with diabetes mellitus who were managed collaboratively by a physician and pharmacist. Patients in the collaborative care group were matched using nearest-neighbor matching with patients who received usual care, which was solely managed by a physician.

Over 12 months, the average glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) decreased 1.75% in the collaborative care group compared with 0.16% in the usual care group, according to the study. Noting that HbA1c values were higher at baseline in the collaborative care group, researchers performed post-hoc subgroup analyses to reduce potential bias. The collaborative care group, they found, still showed a significant reduction in HbA1c compared with the usual care group. Total cholesterol and triglycerides also decreased in the collaborative care group. 

Moreover, collaborative care was associated with significant decreases in emergency department visits and hospitalizations among patients. 

“The total savings and cost avoidance for physician-pharmacist collaboration” researchers wrote, “was $633,015, or $1644 per patient for the 12-month follow-up period.” 

Jolynn Tumolo 


Norton MC, Haftman ME, Buzzard LN. Impact of Physician-Pharmacist Collaboration on Diabetes Outcomes and Health Care Use. J Am Board Fam Med. 2020;33(5):745-753. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2020.05.200044

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