Screening for type 2 diabetes in community pharmacies could increase early diagnosis and reduce NHS costs, according to a study.
The researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Boots UK investigated the cost-effectiveness of community pharmacy-based type 2 diabetes screening in two pilot locations, Leicester and Surrey, with 328 people taking part in the study over a six-month period in 2014.
They found that the cost per test and identification rates were similar to those reported through medical practices for type 2 diabetes. Efficiency of the screening service was also improved through the use of a risk screening tool questionnaire, which reduced the number of tests needed.
Researchers believe that locating a community pharmacy type 2 diabetes screening service in areas of suspected greater prevalence, and increasing the proportion of patients who follow pharmacist advice to attend their medical practice, would significantly improve the cost-effectiveness of the service.
Professor David Wright, from UEA’s School of Pharmacy, said: “This study shows that screening through community pharmacies is no more costly or less effective than undertaken through other routes. For such services to be cost-effective however, we also need to intervene in those identified as ‘high risk’ to prevent progression to 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.”
Marc Donovan, Chief Pharmacist at Boots UK, added: “This research highlights that there is a real opportunity for pharmacies in the UK to offer community based type 2 diabetes screenings and continue to support the services offered in GP practices.
“Not only does screening support patients by increasing early identification and treatment of type 2 diabetes, it is also known to reduce the incidence of complications, have a positive impact on costs to the NHS and, ultimately, supports the government’s public health agenda.”
The study ‘Diabetes screening through community pharmacies in the UK: is it cost-effective’ was published by the journal Pharmacy.