Why many health systems are capitalizing on the growing home infusion therapy trend

With hospitals around the nation facing unprecedented financial burden related to COVID-19, and more people becoming uninsured, it’s critical for healthcare leaders to identify sources of revenue and execute cost-saving strategies. Leaders should not overlook pharmacy to help capture savings.

Keeping patients healthy and in their homes is one of the greatest forms of healthcare cost containment, and a core component of patient-centric care. One area of significant expansion is the home infusion therapy market as health systems are challenged to care for an aging population with more cases of chronic diseases requiring intravenous (IV) medications. U.S. home infusion and specialty providers cared for more than 3 million patients in 2019; a 300 percent increase in the last decade. 

Delivering home infusion services is a win-win for health systems. It enables them to address the financial pressures to shift more care out of the costly hospital setting and into the home. Compared to a traditional infusion hospital setting, home infusion imparts significant cost savings. The average cost of home infusion is $140 to $200 per day.2 Home infusion therapy provides the ability to support patient populations throughout the entire continuum of care and offers a way to keep patients in-network. It also benefits patients by allowing them to receive high quality care in the comfort of their homes and, equally as important, individualized assistance to help support infusion therapy compliance for better outcomes. 

“Over the past several years we have seen a number of health systems expand their offerings to provide this service and maintain these patients in-network,” said Mike Marusa, VP, Home Infusion Sales at McKesson. “I believe most healthcare organizations are starting to think more creatively about how they can provide treatments outside of the hospital, clinic, or infusion suite and the added value that delivers to patients.” 

For health systems considering expansion into the home infusion therapy market, consider the following factors that can support improved care quality, patient satisfaction and operational efficiency, while helping to reduce costs. 

Asset management 

Asset management of infusion devices, enteral pumps and ventilators is a tremendous challenge for health systems which gets even more complex when delivering home infusion services. The health system coordinates the delivery of the home infusion devices and products, help to set up the equipment, and monitor the equipment so it stays in working order. It becomes harder to track, manage and maintain the equipment. 

The cost to manage and support the devices in the home setting can be high, requiring Health Systems to provide services that fall outside of their care models. Teaming up with an external provider offering a full range of solutions for inventory management, medical device service, device compliance and technology for inventory management; can help improve operating expenses and reduce cost for the Health System. 

Equipment is one part of the equation when it comes to administering home infusion. Another critical component is providing and managing the medication or other therapies delivered intravenously to the patient. Many health systems are opting to discharge patients with the products they need to quickly get them on the therapeutic regimen that is prescribed to them and then leverage their nurses and courier network or a distribution network to coordinate the resupply. Medication adherence is key to better patient outcomes. 

Patient Engagement

When caring for patients outside of a traditional healthcare setting it is important to facilitate ongoing communication. With the trend toward consumer-driven healthcare, patients expect to be able to connect with clinicians through their smart phones and other mobile devices. Having two-way communication is key to an effective home infusion therapy program. 

A mobile app for secure messaging between patients and clinicians streamlines communication, enables patients to quickly get answers to their questions and allows the health system to send information to help support compliance, such as messages related to resupply and regimen adherence. Advanced solutions offer the ability for clinicians to send educational materials, including device how-to tutorials, in real-time, as well as easily share forms and conduct patient satisfaction surveys.

“In an environment where health systems are navigating the financial and operational pressures of COVID-19 on top of their everyday challenges, they are increasingly exploring technology-driven engagement solutions that allow them to provide care virtually to patients in-network while reducing the cost to serve,” said Marusa. 

Receiving Quality Care at Home to Support Better Outcomes

“Home infusion providers and health systems that offer this service have a great track record of providing high quality care that meets the needs of patients in the least expensive setting,” said Marusa. “They are doing it in such a way that supports IV therapy compliance for better outcomes, fewer complications and lower costs. If a patient can stay on his/her medication regimen and remain healthy at home that is the best option for the patient, the health system and the payer.” 

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