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Diabetes Care as a Daily Part of Pharmacy
Catherine Bronger
Diabetes services should be delivered by pharmacists specialising in the area – well-educated and highly accessible healthcare is community pharmacy’s strategic point of difference. Unlike in the past, there are now more pharmacists who are driven to build careers and become ‘specialists’ in many of these health services.

Diabetes services should be delivered by pharmacists specialising in the area – well-educated and highly accessible healthcare is community pharmacy’s strategic point of difference. Unlike in the past, there are now more pharmacists who are driven to build careers and become ‘specialists’ in many of these health services.

At the same time, no service should be delivered in isolation but developed as part of the population’s health needs, utilising specialists appropriately. I find that the scripts you dispense are the ‘tealeaves to your future’; those recurring most frequently indicate where you should empower your pharmacists to specialise.

If you’re first to market with a new service, start with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and don’t be afraid to pivot towards or away from it as demand fluctuates. Start a culture of service delivery – train all members of the team, not just specialists – and cross-pollinate the services. All services relate to each to other because disease states don’t usually exist in isolation.

How we ‘did’ diabetes

Several years ago, we were inspired by local research that identified there was a diabetes epidemic in our area. We started working with local diabetes educators, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, GPs and dietitians to deliver seminars to patients in the local coffee shop. Sometimes up to 60 patients would turn up for a free coffee and practical information on their conditions.

We then build a ‘Diabetes Club’ and started offering health checks that included absolute cardiovascular risk assessment and HbA1c testing in store. We helped them download blood glucose level results. We continued to deliver seminars and work with local healthcare professionals.

It encouraged several of our pharmacists to start the formal process of becoming diabetes educators. We’ve completed our diplomas and are now working on credentialing hours. Meantime, we are working with non-pharmacist diabetes educators in our pharmacies who mentor us and offer services one day a week.

External and internal communication

Initially I worked very closely with a few companies and industry leaders to gain a better understanding about what was happening in diabetes care. Some companies invited our pharmacists to specialist diabetes seminars to increase their skills and network with other professionals. Our Minimal Viable Product (MVP) was HbA1c testing. We tried many different point-of-care testing machines and worked with the suppliers on establishing the Diabetes Club, which resulted in our pharmacists becoming diabetes educators.

We didn’t get the service perfect at the start and are still developing it but we began with a vision to set up and deliver the gold standard of diabetes service. We knew it would take time to get the level of expertise and the service fully integrated so we have been introducing it in stages because as the clients drive demand, our team builds their expertise and the industry moves to align.