Community Pharmacies Offering Type 2 Diabetes Screening Could Lead to Early Diagnosis

By Jeff Craven /alert Contributor
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A proactive diabetes screening program employed at community pharmacies in the United Kingdom may help identify individuals at risk of developing diabetes, which could help both the individual manage their symptoms earlier and lower the overall cost of treating the disease if used to detect cases where individuals are at high risk of diabetes, according to recent research published in the journal Pharmacy.

“This study shows that screening though community pharmacies is no more costly or less effective than undertaken through other routes,” David Wright, PhD, FRPharmS, from the school of pharmacy at University of East Anglia in Norwich United Kingdom, stated in a press release. “For such services to be cost-effective however, we also need to intervene in those identified as ‘high risk’ to prevent progression to diabetes.”

​Pharmacist performing diabetes screening. Source: Getty

The pharmacy screening initiative consisted of individuals completing a standardized type 2 diabetes customer service record form (CRF), which included valid and reliable diabetes screening tools and UK-required government questions. Individuals who scored less than 16 points on the questionnaire were directed to other services, such as weight management and cessation of smoking, while individuals who scored 15 points or higher were offered a non-fasting HbA1c finger prick blood test at the pharmacy. If an individual was identified as having a high risk for diabetes, a pharmacist follow-up appointment was scheduled within 3 months, and individuals with a high likelihood of diabetes were advised to see their general practitioner (GP) for further testing.

The CRF test identified 64 of 172 individuals from six pharmacies in Leicester (37%) and 40 of 164 individuals at five pharmacies in Surrey, United Kingdom (24%) at medium to high risk of diabetes. The researchers predicted the average cost of administering the CRF tests were £28.65. In areas consisting of deprived mixed ethnicity, the cost per appropriately-referred patient to GP was lower (£7,638) than in non-deprived areas (£11,297); however, the cost to refer increased if only 60% of patients followed up with their GP, they said.

The researchers noted that it is important the cost of referral for confirmatory tests at a GP be seen as a good value in a “resource-constrained NHS,” and the value of the service can be improved by focusing on referrals for individuals with a high risk of developing diabetes.

“This is a natural addition to the diabetes screening process and, with appropriate funding, is something which community pharmacists can effectively do to contribute to the public health agenda,” Wright said in the release.