APhA Selects School of Pharmacy for 2010 Pinnacle Award

Prestigious national award presented June 28 in Washington, D.C. recognizes the achievements of the chronic disease management program for self-insured employers

From left: Christine Lee, PharmD, of XLHealth, Raymond Love, PharmD, School of Pharmacy associate dean, James Dowling of McCormick & Co., Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, Wendy Cohan of PPS, and Howard Schiff, BSP, of the MPhA.

By Patricia Fanning
May 31, 2010

The success of an innovative partnership that is directed by pharmacists and improves workers’ productivity by helping them manage chronic diseases has led the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation to honor the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy with a 2010 Pinnacle Award.

The prestigious national award, to be presented June 28 in Washington, D.C., recognizes the achievements of the School’s Maryland P3 (Patients, Pharmacists, Partnerships) Program for self-insured employers ranging from large companies such as W. R. Grace & Co. and McCormick & Co. to health systems including Upper Chesapeake Health System and Western Maryland Health System.

The program provides well-trained pharmacists who coach employees to manage their diabetes or other chronic conditions, while preventing complications. The Maryland P3 Program has trained 170 licensed pharmacists, forged an expanded role for pharmacists in patient care, collaborated with primary care physicians for patients with diabetes, and helped approximately 400 patients by reinforcing medication adherence.

“Receiving the Pinnacle Award is the culmination of many years of commitment from the School of Pharmacy and its partner organizations to advancing pharmacy practice in the state of Maryland and beyond,” said Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, professor and chair of the School’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science and director of the Maryland P3 Program.

The Maryland General Assembly has funded the initiative since 2006, when the program was launched in Allegany County, and continues to support it through the Office of Chronic Disease Prevention in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH). The state funds the School to train pharmacists and manage the program in collaboration with the Maryland Pharmacists Association (MPhA). Since its inception, the program has expanded to four counties in Maryland and Chesapeake, Virginia.

“The P3 Program is a wonderful example of how pharmacists can make a real and direct impact on patient outcomes,” said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Pharmacists are one of the most accessible health care providers in our country and are the medication experts on the health care team. The P3 Program capitalizes on the pharmacist’s unique skills and talents and has shown to be effective at controlling patients’ chronic diseases. Receiving the coveted Pinnacle Award is recognition that having a pharmacist involved in front line patient care improves outcomes.”

The patient-pharmacist relationship is at the core of the program. Services focus on medication therapy management (MTM), compliance with the appropriate disease specific standards of care (foot, eye, and dental exams, and vaccinations), and laboratory tests in collaboration with the patient’s personal physician or health care provider. Pharmacist coaches support the patient’s development of disease specific knowledge, self-management skills, and medical management abilities as part of their contribution to the health care team in cooperation with the patient’s health care provider.

The Maryland P3 Program achieved significant results during its first evaluation in 2008 under American Diabetes Association guidelines. Of 176 patients tracked for 12 month clinical outcomes, more than half met therapeutic goals and fewer were in poor control of their diabetes when compared to those in other entities, according to the report commissioned by the MDHMH Office of Chronic Disease Prevention.

The program has demonstrated notable achievement in effectiveness measurements when compared to other national and statewide health care plans including cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The percentage of P3 patients whose disease indicators showed poor control after one year was 9.1 percent, compared with commercial health plans (29.4 percent), National Medicare (29.0 percent) and Medicaid (45 percent).

In a report by Columbia, Md.,-based W. R. Grace, which joined the program in 2007, a group of 52 enrollees was found overall to have achieved a favorable trend in blood glucose and improved cardiovascular health. The same group saw a decrease in health care costs (co-pays, supplies, etc.) on average of $408 from a baseline period to year one. The company had an average per participant actual cost decrease of $4,484 over the same period, Grace said.

“Employee wellness is a priority at Grace,” says Pamela Wagoner, vice president and chief human resources officer, adding that positive feedback from workers has led the company to consider expansion of the benefit to sites beyond Maryland. “Collectively, the program helps our colleagues manage their diabetes while also working to lower our overall healthcare costs,” she says.

Rodriguez de Bittner says the award “provides validation of the positive impact that the Maryland P3 Program has had on patients, employers, pharmacists, and our partners.” She adds, “It is our hope that this award will become an impetus to incorporating pharmacists’ chronic disease management services as a benefit in all public and private health plans.”

This is the thirteenth year for the Pinnacle Awards: Recognizing Contributions to Health Care Quality through the Medication Use Process. They are administered by the APhA Foundation’s Quality Center and supported by Pfizer. Created in response to the increasing importance of the proper use of medications in today’s health care environment, the Pinnacle awards are intended to inspire development of innovative care models that are truly patient-centered. The 2010 awards will be presented during ceremonies on June 28 that begin at 5:30 p.m. at the APhA Headquarters, 2215 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20037.

Founded in 1841, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is the fourth oldest school of pharmacy in the nation. The School is a thriving center for professional and graduate education, pharmaceutical care, research, and community service. Ranking ninth in the nation, the School strives to improve the health and well-being of society by aiding in the discovery, development and use of medicines. The School’s PharmD program expanded to The Universities at Shady Grove in Montgomery County in the fall of 2007, and construction is nearly complete on a $62 million, seven-story building adjacent to the School’s Pharmacy Hall.