'Innovations in Community Health' program addresses a growing need among patients

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Why is the news that CVS Caremark Charitable Trust has teamed up with the National Association of Community Health Centers important? $300 billion a year and an alarming rise in the number of Americans suffering from chronic diseases. That’s why.

(THE NEWS: CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, NACHC form 'Innovations in Community Health' program. For the full story, click here)

Annual excess healthcare costs because of medication nonadherence in the United States are estimated to be as much as $300 billion — yes, billion — annually.

Furthermore, more than half of Americans suffer from one or more chronic diseases, and that number is expected to grow in the next decade. Just take diabetes as one example, a disease that costs $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses.

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, an estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood-sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes raises a person's risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

In a study published in 2010, CDC projected that as many as 1-out-of-3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050, if current trends continue.

Need more of a reason? Now factor in the recent Supreme Court ruling on healthcare reform that could put as many as 40 million uninsured Americans into the coverage rolls — and potentially into prescription drug coverage. It will drive a good number of patients to medical  homes, and in theory, significantly increase the demand for maintenance prescriptions and other preventative or chronic healthcare services.

That’s what makes the multiyear partnership between the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust and the National Association of Community Health Centers so important as it will make grants available to community health centers across the country to support the development of innovative, community-based programs and initiatives to manage chronic diseases.

Funding through the grant program will support a variety of programs such as healthcare models that include education and tracking methods for promoting medication adherence for patients managing chronic diseases.

Clearly, there’s a need for greater access to healthcare and medical services. What are your thoughts on additional ways the industry can help meet this need and further improve the lives of patients?