May 22, 2019
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Cost of diabetes tests similar in community pharmacies, medical practices

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Costs associated with screening a patient for diabetes and conducting confirmatory testing via community pharmacies in England was comparable to the same services performed in medical practices, according to findings recently published in Pharmacy.

“Early identification and treatment of diabetes is known to reduce the incidence of complications,” David Wright, PhD, School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and colleagues wrote. “Screening activity within a population increases the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, and results in cases being identified 3.3 years earlier on average.”

Pharmacies performed diabetes screenings on 164 residents of an area with an average level of social deprivation and mostly white inhabitants, and 172 residents of an area with an above average level of social deprivation with inhabitants of mixed ethnicity.

Wright and colleagues gathered the costs associated with training the pharmaceutical assistant, advertising the screening, preparing clinical/customer feedback forms, paying the pharmaceutical assistant and pharmacist’s salaries, using the HbA1c test and analyzer, conducting internal quality control and external quality assurance, collecting samples and providing consumables for each resident. The data were compared to previous studies that had ascertained the same costs when a medical practice conducted the screening.

Researchers found that the cost per patient with confirmed type 2 diabetes was estimated to range from £7,638 ($9,809 USD) in areas with above average levels of social deprivation to £11,297 ($14,508 USD) in locations with an average level of social deprivation. These amounts increased to £12,730 ($16,349 USD) in areas with above average levels of social deprivation and £18,828 ($24,180 USD) in locations with an average level of social deprivation when 60% of such patients asked their general practitioner to perform confirmatory testing.

“The estimated cost per test as delivered within the underpinning service was only marginally greater than that reported in other medical practice-based studies,” Wright and colleagues wrote. “Consequently, we can assume that a community pharmacy-based service is likely to provide similar results to that provided from a medical practice.”

“Whilst it would have been preferable to take a whole health system perspective when estimating costs, development of such a model was beyond the project’s remit. A wider perspective would have implied wider costs, but this doesn’t invalidate the perspective adopted,” they added. – by Janel Miller

Disclosures: Wright reports conducting consulting work for community pharmacy companies. Please see the study for all other authors relevant financial disclosures.