Sigma pharmacies in pilot diabetes program

Sigma trials diabetes pilot; index finger with pinprick of blood as in diabetes testing
small drop of blood on the tip of a finger

Sigma’s Amcal and Guardian pharmacies have begun a national pilot program to test patients for diabetes in a more effective, convenient and systematic approach using new standard testing equipment in pharmacies, which measures the HbA1c.

In six minutes the new pinprick test can accurately tell patients in a convenient and efficient way if they need to be referred to a GP for further consultation about diabetes risk.

For those already diagnosed by their GP, the test provides strong and convenient indications of how effectively the patient is managing their condition, says Sigma.

The pilot program is assessing two different laboratory quality technology solutions for testing HbA1c.

Blood taken by the pinprick test is analysed in just over six minutes, and provides an indication of blood glucose levels over an extended period – a more accurate and efficient indicator of diabetes risk.

Until now the only pinprick glucose testing available in pharmacies simply measured a patient’s blood sugar level at the point of testing (which can be highly influenced by what they’ve just eaten) and therefore was not as accurate or effective.

For patients already diagnosed as diabetic, the results of the pinprick test provide important information for the patient to hold informed discussions with their pharmacist regarding their medication and whether a review with their GP is required.

The pilot program is being trialled in 15 Amcal/Guardian stores in four states around Australia (full list below) and if successful will be rolled out across the broader network of these pharmacies.

The pharmacists at these stores have undergone additional training to ensure patients are appropriately tested, counselled and referred.

To ensure undiagnosed patients are not unnecessarily tested, patients first complete the AUSD risk assessment questionnaire.

“This new diabetes test is a quick and simple risk assessment tool for diabetes which we believe will allow people to more accurately determine whether they have a medical issue that needs to be addressed. Sigma believes this test will help improve the quality of life of those who don’t know they have diabetes,’’ says Gary Dunne, Sigma’s Chief Operating Officer.

“Sigma is constantly striving for new innovative ways to improve the health services available to our customers in our Amcal and Guardian pharmacies because our pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers in community health,’’ he says.

More than one million Australians have diabetes – but only half are able to adequately control or monitor their glucose levels.

Diabetes has been described by Diabetes Australia as a “growing epidemic in our community”” and they estimate up to three million Australians over the age of 25 years will have diabetes by the year 2025.

These new tests are aimed at preventing the onset of a range of medical issues associated with diabetes, which can affect the feet, eyes, kidneys, as well as the cardiovascular health of sufferers.

The tests are aimed at those people at risk of a diabetes profile including people who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes or develop other risk factors.

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