April 13, 2021
Pharmacy owners experienced in offering pharmacy diabetes programs offer up some solutions to help increase margin and earn money for the services.
[For an in-depth look at the business opportunity of a pharmacy diabetes program, read Is Diabetes Care a Good Business Opportunity for Pharmacy?]
Advice comes from these owners and directors who have run a diabetes program in their pharmacy:
Payless Family Pharmacy and Remington Drug Co were both able to secure grants for their pharmacy diabetes programs. Remington received $10,000 from the Virginia Pharmacy Association and $3,400 from the Virginia Diabetes Council. Payless Family was contacted by the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Pharmacy Association to get accredited and start a pilot program.
Many drug companies offer free resources to pharmacies, whether it’s providing informational handouts, sending people trained in diabetes to do speaking engagements, or even sending a diabetes educator to teach a full class for no charge. All the pharmacy has to do is host, and the drug companies do all the work.
Cranford started a walking club at the local YMCA. For five dollars per month, patients and Cranford would meet three times a week and walk a mile. “When we walked, we would talk about ways to be healthier at home, ways to be more active,” Cranford said. “It didn’t cost them but five dollars a month. That’s something that could be implemented relatively easily and you earn their trust.”
Pharmacists provide unique skills and knowledge to diabetes programs and set pharmacies apart from other diabetes educators. But they also have high salaries. Incorporating a nurse into your diabetes program can help reduce some of the labor costs. If a nurse shouldered part of the program, including billing, some class instruction, and other administrative tasks, “it would be a lot easier on the wallet,” Hale said.
Payless Family and Remington use Sweet Spot, a resource from OmniSYS that provides all the materials a pharmacy needs to offer a monthly class. “It is a good platform for any pharmacy, especially those who are looking to do community education class and are hoping to help bring in some patients,” Hale said. Cranford said, “That just made our job a whole lot easier because we had a template to follow for diabetes education either one on one or group setting.” However, it costs around $400 a month for access to the information.
You do not need a certified diabetes educator (CDCES) for accreditation and reimbursement, and the requirements for the certification are considerable. Aside from the monetary costs, time requirements include 1000 hours of patient interaction, and exam initially and every five years, and 15 hours of continuing education per year. “Anyone considering becoming a CDCES, and making this a self-supporting or profitable venture, needs to do a lot of investigation first,” said Motsko. “I hate to say it, but be cautious about what is presented by AADE when it comes to billing opportunities.”