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Implementing a Diabetes Management Program in a Community Pharmacy: Part 1 of 3

by Dr. Michael Case Haub

As pharmacy continues to change it is important that pharmacists develop ways in which they can implement the change that is occurring. Currently there are many innovative ideas that are cropping up around the nation including minute-clinics, coagulation clinics and diabetes education programs. There are also many individuals who have amazing ideas but do not know exactly how to start the pendulum swinging in the right direction to see their idea become reality. Dr. Michael Case Haub, a pharmacy manager at Hy- Vee Pharmacy in West Des Moines, Iowa, shared some insight on how to implement a diabetes management program within a community pharmacy setting. Although the following information is specific to diabetes programs there are aspects that could be extrapolated to establishing a variety of patient care services.

First steps first; it is important to develop a business plan when a new idea is being considered for possible implementation. This plan will allow you to visualize your goals and objectives including what type of program it is that you are looking for. Specifically you want to decide how you will provide the service and what type of service you will provide. For example, will you teach group classes only or do you want to develop sessions for individuals? Will this time be spent as education on diabetes or will it be spent instructing people how to manage diabetes? Of course either answer could work for you or a combination of the two, so decide how to tailor the program as you have visualized it.   

It is also important to decide who will teach the program. If you will do it yourself is there additional education that you need prior to starting the program? Is there a current staff member that will teach the program or do you need to hire an additional staff member to oversee the project? Is it financially feasible to even start this program and who will you market it to? The question becomes, “How dedicated are you to diabetes education and maintaining an advanced knowledge about diabetes?”

Performing a SWOT analysis is the first stage of planning and will help marketers focus on key issues concerning an organization or business. It is a tool for auditing an organization and its environment. “SWOT” stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, while opportunities and threats are external factors. For example, strengths may include the location of your business or a new innovative service to offer. However, the location of your business or offering an undifferentiated service may be a weakness. Examining opportunities that may exist, either now or in the future, will help in your decision making.

Examples of opportunities include a developing marketplace, a new regional or international market, or an existing market vacated by an ineffective competitor. There are also the external threats to be aware of such as a new competitor in the home market, price wars with competition, or that the competition may have superior access to distribution.

Remember that a SWOT analysis is a very subjective assessment and not to rely solely on it when making business decisions. There are some simple rules for using your SWOT successfully:  be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses, be as specific as possible, and apply the SWOT in relation to your competition. It helps to keep your SWOT short and simple and avoid complexity and over analysis. This analysis is a “snapshot” of where your organization is now versus where it could be in the future.

In our next segment, we will take a look at certification options, curriculum development, outcomes measurement, and marketing.