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Pharmacists helping patients better manage diabetes, other chronic conditions in outpatient setting

After Ascension Via Christi’s Lyndsey Buzzard and Meghan Haftman earned their Doctor of Pharmacy degrees, both went on to complete out-of-state post-doctoral residency training in the outpatient setting.

Since that time, they have helped establish clinical pharmacy services and chronic disease state management as part of a Pharmacist-Physician Collaborative Practice Program that after several expansions now includes nine of Ascension Medical Group Via Christi’s 10 Wichita outpatient family medicine clinics.

“It’s been so successful that we’re hoping to see the program expanded to all of the clinics,” says Jim Garrelts, vice president of Pharmacy for Ascension Via Christi.

Here’s how the program works.

Under a collaborative practice agreement, the clinics’ physicians refer patients to Buzzard and Haftman, who help patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma, and address issues such as anticoagulation and smoking cessation. The pair also does comprehensive medication reviews and medication therapy management to help their patients get optimal benefit from their medications.

This has led to significantly improved medication compliance, self-management knowledge and outcomes among the patients with chronic conditions who are referred to them.

“I’ve seen patients with A1C levels go from 13% to 7% in just three to six months,” says Haftman, who along with Buzzard, was recently named as a Wichita Business Journal 2019 Health Care Hero.

Ed Hett, MD, Ascension Via Christi’s chief clinical officer for new models of care, says that the clinics are finding that diabetic control is better because the pharmacists work with the patients to find a medication regime that is effective and affordable.

The program also benefits physicians, as having a pharmacist as part of their outpatient clinical teams allows them to devote their time to other aspects of patient care and gives them and their patients ready access to an in-house drug information expert.

“They can go into greater detail in helping patients understand when and how to take their medications and any potential side effects than we as physicians can do in the limited time we have,” says Hett.

It’s already being lauded as a major advancement in patient care.

“Our Healthier You Accountable Care Organization carefully monitors quality indicators in order to use them to improve patient outcomes and reduce the overall cost of care,” says Pete Moyer, director of Innovation for Ascension Via Christi. “In a relatively short period of time, we’re seeing significant and quantifiable improvements in diabetes control as a result of this program.”

Additionally, Buzzard and Haftman were instrumental in helping KU and Ascension Via Christi establish a second-year, post-doctoral residency program in Wichita last year. That program is designed to help grow the number of Wichita-area pharmacists with specialized training in outpatient practice.

Robert Emerson, associate dean of the KU School of Pharmacy-Wichita, hails Buzzard and Haftman as leaders in pharmacist collaborative practice. “They are setting the standard and the example for the future of ambulatory care pharmacy practice and are improving the outcomes and the lives of many individuals in and around Wichita.”

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.