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  • Phillip Ratliff, Backstory Educational Media

Making Chronic Disease Management Personal


Chronic disease management is a big problem, no matter what segment of society you're looking at, but it hits medically underserved areas the hardest. In Georgia medically underserved is synonymous with "south of I-20," the east-west interstate that divides Atlanta's affluent northern suburbs from its inner city sectors and the state's vast rural expanses. When you're dealing with the effects of diabetes, where you live dictates the sort of care you will receive.

Forward-thinking healthcare advocates know that there's a chronic disease care disruptor, one we haven't fully mobilized. I'm talking about the community pharmacist. (A recent TED Talk looked at the pharmacist-disruptor model.) Pharmacists have long known that they're not practicing at the full extent of their license and training and if they were, they'd help move the needle on chronic disease outcomes, drive down healthcare costs, and make a whole lot of people live happier, healthier lives.

The Georgia Department of Public Health agreed. Georgia's DPH approached the Georgia Pharmacy Association with a request: help us find ten pharmacists south of the I-20 divide willing to implement a patient-facing diabetes program called DSME -- for diabetes self-management education. The challenge DPH faced was motivation: how to remove obstacles to DSME accreditation while extolling the personal -- and yes, financial -- rewards of offering this service. GPhA and DPH needed a special kind of storytelling, a blend of technical language and human interest. Here's the result, a feature story in Georgia Pharmacy magazine, "DSME: Helping Patients Help Themselves."

By the way, at press time, 38 Georgia pharmacists have come forward, indicating their intent to begin offering DSME services to Georgia patients. "DSME: Helping Patients Help Themselves" was positioned as part of a larger campaign to identify interested pharmacists. But it was a crucial part of an overwhelmingly successful strategy.


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