Pharmacy Services Collaborative Focuses on Improving Health of Diabetics in the Delta

… Regional meeting set for Aug. 25 to inform health care providers of program’s benefits

OXFORD, Miss. – Diabetes is more prevalent and causes more deaths in the Mississippi Delta than anywhere else in the nation. To make matters worse, many diabetic patients in the Delta lack access to health care, don’t understand their complex medication regimens and can’t afford them.

In response to the epidemic, the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is providing medication therapy management services and disease-specific education for the region’s high-risk diabetes patients through the Health Resources and Services Administration Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative.

The PSPC is a national effort to transform health care by teaching a team of providers practical steps to integrating clinical pharmacy services into the primary health care home of patient populations with poor health status and high medication risk. More than 100 teams across the country are participating in the collaborative, which is beginning its third year.

Through this collaborative, the UM pharmacy school is partnered with the G.A. Carmichael Community Health Center in Yazoo City and the Delta Health Alliance 21st Century Clinic for Chronic Disease Care in Greenville. The school is also working with the Family Health Center in Laurel.

“At these sites, pharmacists are enrolling 25 patients with uncontrolled diabetes,” said Lauren Bloodworth, clinical assistant professor and program administrator. “After an initial face-to-face consultation, patients have one-on-one follow-up visits with the pharmacist on an as-needed basis.”

The collaborative’s main focus is improving the health and well-being of high-risk diabetes patients, and this is best achieved when they are made responsible for their own health outcomes, Bloodworth said. “We help them set their own health care goals. If short-term goals have been met, we help them add new goals. If goals are not met, we discuss what was difficult to achieve and develop a new plan to improve their health care status.”

Managing patients with uncontrolled diabetes can be complex. Pharmacists begin by reviewing all prescription and nonprescription medications, herbal products and dietary supplements patients are taking. After assessing the presence of any medication-related problems, pharmacists work with patients, physicians or other health care professionals to determine appropriate options for resolving identified problems.

“In addition to appropriate medication use, we address lifestyle problems such as diet, exercise, psychological concerns and education,” said Lorelei Farr, a UM pharmacist who helps care for patients in Yazoo City. “We also measure key health indicators such as hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure, BMI (Body Mass Index) and lipid panels, as well as medication adherence by tracking pharmacy refill records and recommendations made to each patient’s providers.”

The PSPC is part of a larger School of Pharmacy effort in the Delta region, the Delta Pharmacy Patient Care Management Project. Since the project began in July 2008, faculty members visited participating community pharmacies in Batesville, Clarksdale and Yazoo City, providing Medicaid patients with medication therapy management services and education related to asthma and diabetes.

Last year, the project was expanded to include more counties in the Delta and to patients beyond Medicaid recipients. Generalized medication therapy management, a health-literacy and cultural-competency component were added, and a new community pharmacy residency program was created.

Entering its third year, the program is expanding again to address other health concerns and chronic diseases.

“In this third year, the project is expanding to address the important health challenge of obesity and will be adding an employer-based prevention and diabetes management program,” said Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean and chair of pharmacy practice. “We will continue the existing medication therapy management arm, which is aimed at achieving outcomes through the effective use of medications, patient education and the prevention of drug complications or interactions. It’s a more comprehensive approach to patient care.”

The Delta Pharmacy Patient Care Management Project provides a structure for that care, which is particularly important in rural areas, and the PSPC provides a platform for the integration of pharmacy services.

With many of its faculty members on the UM Medical Center campus, the Department of Pharmacy Practice leads the Delta project in collaboration with the Department of Pharmacy Administration and the Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management.

The Delta Pharmacy Patient Care Management Project is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration through the nonprofit Delta Health Alliance, which funds a number of projects aimed at coordinating health efforts in the Delta.

The UM School of Pharmacy is hosting a regional meeting for any member of the health care team interested in learning more about the PSPC on Aug. 25 at the Norman C. Nelson Student Union on the UM Medical Center campus in Jackson. This program, “Enhancing Diabetes Care through an Interprofessional Approach to Performance Improvement,” is sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

For more information about the Delta Pharmacy Patient Care Management Project or the AACP Regional PSPC meeting, call project coordinator Elisha Blades at 601-984-2627 or visit For more information about the UM School of Pharmacy, visit