As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter the home-based care industry, changes that agencies were already making to succeed in a value-based care model have taken on a new urgency. Innovative technologies are critical to help prioritize value-based data and seamless transitions to lower-cost care settings.
For both economic and safety reasons, home care plays an increasingly important role in minimizing risk for elderly or otherwise immuno-compromised patients, especially for those who rely on infused drug therapies for chronic, complex conditions. With hospital system capacity spread thin due to the pandemic and elevated concerns about risk of exposure in a health system setting, the imperative for keeping people in the comfort of their own homes is greater than ever.
That is what makes home infusion therapy so appealing.
Home infusion comes with significant benefits, but the industry also faces a new set of challenges due to COVID-19. Adoption of flexible, scalable technology is an important part of the solution to support in-person and virtual operations while building new processes that will chart a course well past the point of the pandemic’s impact.
With its required mix of equipment, complex therapy management and clinical coordination across many health care providers, home infusion creates strain around data tracking and operational efficiencies. To address these challenges, home and alternate site infusion providers need a software platform that is cloud-based and mobile, offers real-time communication and integrates seamlessly with other systems to provide users with a single point of access.
“As the demand for home infusion rises, the need to ensure patient safety and high-quality care will be a key focus,” says Adrian Schauer, founder and CEO of a cloud-based, home health care software provider AlayaCare.
Here are five benefits that cloud-based technology brings to home and alternate site infusion during the pandemic.
Offers easy-to-use technology
For Option Care Health, a partnership with AlayaCare has been just what the doctor ordered. One of the major advantages is the ease of the technology, which was a key selling point for nursing teams accustomed to pen and paper.
“We needed a solution that would be easy to adopt, help us easily shift to a virtual environment and meet the increasing need for data,” says Joan Couden, vice president of nursing for Option Care Health. “The IT match was really important to us. The solution we chose had to fit into the rest of our systems and clinical needs.”
Enhances nurse-pharmacist communication and collaboration
One of the most important relationships for optimizing outcomes in home infusion is between the nurse and the pharmacist. The pharmacist must know everything happening during the care episode, while the nurse must know all of the medications the patient is taking orally as well as what is being compounded and dispensed from the pharmacy.
Previous to its work with AlayaCare, Option Care Health maintained this nurse-pharmacist collaboration through manual processes, which “are always sub-optimal,” Couden says.
Instead, cloud-based technology produces near real-time updates to care plans, moving from the nurse to the pharmacy or the pharmacy to the nurse. Changes to medications or patient response to medications get transferred immediately.
“Now more than ever, post-acute care providers must automate manual business processes to ensure high-quality care, or risk missing out on profitable growth,” Schauer says.
Creates consistent care regardless of setting
In a mobile world, amidst a pandemic and a value-based landscape that rewards care in lower-cost settings, the ability to deliver care in a patient’s home is invaluable, with multiple benefits to both care outcomes and the bottom line.
But the home is not the only location where infusion services are provided. Patients can also receive care in infusion suites. Cloud-based technology offers continuity of care across settings to ensure that the quality of care is the same no matter the setting.
“There are a lot of challenges in a remote, mobile clinical situation. The AlayaCare platform allows for flexible, dynamic adaptation to the way home infusion worked historically and to how it is changing today,” says Brett Michalak, Option Care Health Chief Information Officer. “Everyone can be focused on clinical care for the patient, and not the underlying technology. And that means patient experience and outcomes are highly enabled through this partnership.”
“The technology allows us to focus on providing care in the most efficient way possible,” adds Couden. “We can ensure we are matching the right nurse to the right patient all with a click of a button, helping to minimize travel time and increase patient-facing time.”
Facilitates shift to telehealth
While this technology had great value prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Option Care Health has seen a boost in its value during the pandemic. Cloud-based technology supports that shift — a shift which is likely to continue to deepen in the coming months.
“The pandemic caused us to look at everything we do differently,” Couden says. “When we started this journey (with AlayaCare), would I have said, ‘Telehealth is something we have to do right now’? I probably would not have. But working in partnership with AlayaCare and our clinical teams, we were able to rapidly and smoothly deploy virtual solutions that really have the ability to change lives for the better, one patient at a time. I believe this is an integral part of how health care will continue to be delivered now and in the future.”
Deploys quickly due to easy integration
One of the top concerns care providers have about new technology systems is workflow. They ask themselves, How long will this take to integrate? The answer from AlayaCare is nearly instantaneous, regardless of what technology a provider already uses.
“AlayaCare allows us to deploy the technology in a rapid manner,” Michalak says. “Competitive platforms don’t provide the integration capabilities, in my opinion, that AlayaCare can provide. The integration of the platform allows for rapid adoption.”
The needs for quick integration and streamlined collaboration are obviously high during COVID-19, but when Option Care went through a merger last year (launching as Option Care Health), the technology from AlayaCare helped the company quickly pivot, too.
“The agile nature of the platform allows us the flexibility to adjust to any evolution in our care environment,” Michalak says. “Whether that’s a merger or a pandemic, we can adapt and deploy the technology optimally to enable our clinicians to focus on care and not on administrative technology. The ease of use and scalability lets our clinicians perform at their highest levels.”
To learn more about how AlayaCare can help your home infusion business, visit AlayaCare.com today.
National Nurses Week is celebrated each year beginning on May 6 and ending on May 12, Florence Nightengale’s birthday, since 1990. The nurses at Option Care Health deliver hope every day through the extraordinary care they provide our patients. We realized that what makes our nurses so special is that they’re actually superheroes in scrubs.
We took a moment to learn more from four of our nurses on the front lines of patient care every day:
- Kerrie Hollifield, Regional Nurse Manager in Norfolk, VA
- Eileen Atwood, Clinical Care Transition Specialist in Austin, TX
- Crystal Griffin, Infusion Nurse in New York City
- Matt Battson, infusion Nurse in Cincinnati, OH
The following interview highlights just a small fraction of the extraordinary men and women here at Option Care Health.
OCH: When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?
KH: I think I was about 16 years old; I’m from a small town in Michigan and had multiple trips to the ER so I really got to know the ER nurse, Jonie. I told my mom that’s what I wanted to do – become a nurse.
EA: I knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was a little kid, I don’t remember the age. I was in elementary school, probably third or fourth grade. I knew I wanted to work in healthcare and the nurse was the practical choice for me. I always wanted to help people and being a nurse was just what I’ve always wanted to do.
CG: For me, I have always been interested in healthcare and my journey brought me to nursing. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
MB: When I was in high school I was going to join the military in healthcare. Plans changed and that didn’t happen but the journey really came full circle when my daughter was diagnosed with liver cancer when she was a year and a half. Going through that process, interacting with the doctors and nurses that helped take care of her, us as a family, helped me rediscover my passion for nursing, and that was it.
OCH: What does your career as a nurse look like – graduation to first job to infusion?
KH: I began my career with three nursing jobs: two home healthcare agencies and in a hospital in Detroit. When I went to nursing school we didn’t get experience putting in IVs and an LPN asked me to go out and draw blood on a patient. After I successfully collected the samples, I realized that was what I wanted to do so I started doing the IVs in the hospital before transitioning into infusion nursing and eventually to my current role where I serve as an IV Nurse Manager..
EA: I began my career as a NICU nurse before transitioning into field infusion nursing for pediatric patients and cardiovascular home care. I came to Option Care Health in a nurse liaison role helping patients transition from the hospital to their home.
CG: I’ve always been into some form of healthcare. I started my career really as a dancer and a choreographer really focusing on mental health. That turned into a job with special needs children and then I began working with elderly, special needs adults before I became med certified and finally received my LPN.
MB: I actually began my career as an aide in a nursing home in high school before I became a chef and began working down the path of opening my own restaurant. Once everything happened with my daughter though, I realized being a nurse was what I was meant to be. Therefore, I put myself through nursing school and am working on my bachelor’s degree today.
OCH: How long have you been with OCH? What drew you to OCH and what keeps you here?
KH: I’ve been with Option Care Health for 18 years. I originally started because of the nurse in charge of the business at the time. I respected her so much and decided I’d like to work for her so I joined the company and stayed because of the great people. Here in Norfolk, we’ve worked together for so long, we’re like a family.
EA: I initially came to Option Care Health because of the people – they just loved working here. I love having autonomy out in the field, not working 12-hour shifts but being able to help teach these patients when they have no idea what they’re doing or how they can do it at home, it’s just a rewarding aspect of nursing.
CG: I’ve been with Option Care Health for about four years, ever since I’d heard how rewarding infusion nursing was as a career. I had been doing dialysis but I was looking for something that would use both my technical skills and my bedside manner. This company has been so good to me; the people are extremely supportive and always make sure I have everything I need to do my job safely. I don’t feel like I’m working, I love it that much.
MB: I’ve been with OCH for about five years and I think I stay because of my manager and the people I work with. I also love my patients, I get to know them on a deeper, personal level and I’m able to help them because of the amount of time I’m able to spend with them.
OCH: In your opinion, what makes nursing at OCH special?
KH: Besides many of us being certified infusion nurses, we’re allowed to take the time we need with the patients to make sure they are comfortable. We’re able to do the teaching that allows them to be comfortable in their home or an Option Care Health Infusion Suite (AIS) with whatever therapy they are receiving.
EA: Everyone has the same goal. We work together as a team and we just want the same things no matter what area of the business you’re in. It’s all about the patient and making sure they’re taken care of – someone always has your back, people are open to ideas and you’re not alone out there.
CG: The term above and beyond exemplifies the nurses here. Every nurse will always go above and beyond to serve the needs of the patient and help the organization move forward. There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for our patients. I have an example, last week a nurse, Kim, came to New York City from Buffalo during height of COVID with bells and whistles on to help us for the week. That’s the kind of thing that makes OCH different.
MB: This is a unique environment that we all work independently, we’re not working side by side with our coworkers. However, I’ve never met any of our nurses that wouldn’t be willing to go the extra mile to help to provide the extraordinary care our patients deserve. That is truly unique to OCH and it’s very special to find people who are truly willing to help no matter what.
OCH: How do you plan to celebrate yourself during national nurses week?
KH: I haven’t really given it much thought. For me, what I do for peace and quiet is to go fishing.
EA: I don’t usually do anything because it’s my job, it’s all I’ve known. I just carry on and make sure the patients are taken care of, that’s my celebration. I don’t need recognition for something I enjoy doing, I truly get that when I’m caring for patients every day.
CG: I’ll probably do a Zoom with my family without interruptions. It may not sound like a lot but I just lost my grandmother over the weekend and taking time with my family that’s filled with joy amid all the negativity, it just fuels me. Even the fact that we’re social distancing and visiting in that way, it makes a big difference for me.
MB: Honestly, I don’t need any accolades or celebration, I truly enjoy what I do and it feels like it’s what I was meant to do. Being able to provide care for my patients is the only celebration I need.
OCH: What does it mean to you, to be providing extraordinary care during an unprecedented time like the one we’re currently in?
KH: I think for us, we have moved many of our patients into our infusion centers. I’ve been able to communicate with our patients and explain why coming to an AIS is lowering risk because of our cleaning procedures between patients. We are also able to lower the risk of exposure by not going into multiple houses to provide care. It’s the first time we’ve ever had to do this but it has been successful It’s working so far and we’re maintaining the health of our patients with their care at the forefront of what we do.
EA: I’m still able to get into the hospitals to teach but the biggest thing is not portraying fear to anyone. To me, the challenge is bridging the gap for the family and the patient. I had a patient the other day who was in the hospital for 11 days, alone. I had to help the family and the patient feel connected with their care, navigate the discharge process, manage the patient’s care after they returned home and help them believe that they successfully provide that care in their home.
CG: I build my happiness around my intentions. My intention is that every patient we care for comes away with an experience that was the same or better before COVID-19. Of course we are implementing safety measures that are different than before but I hope the quality of their care is being maintained or even better than before. I want Option Care Health to be known as a company that cares right now and throughout everything that happens after today.
OCH: What advice you have for people wanting to celebrate everything front line workers are doing during this pandemic?
KH: I enjoy the simple thank you’s. I am glad I’m a nurse, the most trusted profession; I just think the simple thank you’s go a really long way.
EA: What means the most to me is just saying thank you, you’ve made a difference and thank you. That’s all I need.
CG: This is a funny thing because when I got into nursing, I realized that my “applause” comes from within. When a patient is discharged, that is all I need to hear – Thank you for all you’ve done.
MB: I suppose, just a simple thank you. Honestly, that’s more than enough; I do what I do because I love what I do.
Globally, the nursing profession is celebrating a milestone in 2020, as the World Health Organization declares it the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.
Thank you for all you do for patients across the country today and every day. Happy Nurses Week.
Republished with permission from AISHealth.com
With numerous hospitals focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and many areas under stay-at-home mandates, home infusion is more important than ever. Changes within the industry already have been seen, and the current situation is likely to result in permanent shifts within the home infusion space.
“If you can do infusion at home, you need to do it there,” maintains Ashraf Shehata, KPMG national sector leader for Healthcare & Life Sciences. “This is about controlling infection risk in the near term, and many home infusion candidates are in a high-risk category. Longer term, there has been a shift toward delivering care in the most economical and clinically appropriate setting, largely driven by payers.”
“We have seen an increase in some home infusion utilization of select therapies in certain markets where patient administration sites of care are shifting from the acute care or hospital outpatient setting to the home, related to the pandemic,” says Drew Walk, CEO of Soleo Health. “We have also seen a significant reduction in other therapies due to the postponement of non-COVID-related procedures in health systems and provider offices.”
Walk tells AIS Health that while the types of drugs being administered at home have been fairly consistent with what were administered before the pandemic, he’s seen “a broader opportunity to provide first dosing in the home, which may have been offered only in a controlled setting previously.”
“Antibiotics/antivirals, pain management, total parenteral nutrition and [intravenous immune globulin] are currently the most common treatments given through home infusion,” says Shehata, adding that other therapies may be administered at home but “that depends upon the circumstances, such as the medication and the risk to the patient.”
Lee Newcomer, M.D., principal at Lee N. Newcomer Consulting LLC, says a shift to home infusion “will be relatively small” and would be done for two main reasons: avoiding exposure to people who may be infected and bringing down the overhead cost of hospitals or clinics. “The shift is limited by the small number of medications that don’t require physician proximity for side effect management,” he says.
According to Harriet Booker, chief operating officer of Option Care Health, Inc., “Option Care Health’s business model, built around a national network of compounding pharmacies, is designed to bring care to patients right when they need it — which often means delivering complex care with compounded pharmacy medications within hours of a patient discharging from a hospital. And the pandemic really has changed nothing about that, other than our need to ensure we are prepared to meet changing demand and variability in referral volumes.”
She says that the company’s standard operating processes “include comprehensive network and business continuity plans, which ensure our ability to provide infusion pharmacy and nursing care to patients on a consistent and reliable basis nationwide, especially during this pandemic. This real-time agility employs added shifts, remote staffing rotations and expanded pharmacy hours to compound and administer vital medications.”
Option Care Health has been working with hospitals to help them “free up beds in advance of an influx of COVID-19 patients or simply when and where they need it,” Booker says, including identifying conditions that may be treated at home or in an infusion suite and coordinating ongoing care for patients who may be discharged safely.
“Our network of compounding pharmacies allows us to develop care plans personalized to each patient, providing customized medications and supplies that are sent right to their home or administered in the infusion suite,” Booker tells AIS Health. “Our efforts are not only freeing up beds for COVID-19 patients but are getting infusion patients safely and efficiently into more comfortable settings and even preventing hospital admissions from the start.”
Some Services Moved to Virtual Setting
The company also has moved some of its services to a virtual setting, including “remote triaging, patient education and teaching, nurse oversight and assistance to discharge planners and patients.” And Option Care Health has reallocated some of its 2,900 infusion nurses and pharmacy clinicians to places with the greatest need, such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In such a highly contagious environment, the company is taking numerous precautions to help reduce the potential for COVID infections in both its employees and patients. “We are closely following CDC guidelines and are updating our plans, policies and guidelines as often as needed to ensure our employees’ safety and that of our patients, especially during this time of COVID-19 where conditions are changing rapidly,” says Booker. “We have a standing call daily to assess new COVID-19 related data and discuss how to adapt our PPE [i.e., personal protective equipment] supply accordingly. Due to our national network and a long-standing relationship with suppliers, we have an ample PPE supply and are constantly monitoring it to make sure our employees have everything they need to deliver safe treatment to patients.”
Shift to Home Has Been in Place
Some plans already have been shifting administration of certain therapies to patient homes and provider offices, which are more cost-effective settings than hospitals, points out Elan Rubinstein, Pharm.D., EB Rubinstein Associates. The 10th edition of Magellan Rx Management’s Medical Pharmacy Trend Report found that among 54 payer respondents, 39% had a mandatory site-of-service program in place in 2019. Among the members shifted into such a program, 34% were shifted into the home infusion setting.
“There could be more home infusion, with drugs that pose low risk of serious adverse events during or immediately after infusion or where a patient tolerated prior infusions of these drugs with no or minimal difficulty,” says Rubinstein. “With respect to patients receiving chemotherapy, a move to home infusion would require a way to manage performance and evaluation of laboratory tests to assess the safety and appropriateness of the intended drug therapy and a decision prior to infusion to change dosage, change drugs, go ahead or hold off.”
Lisa Kennedy, Ph.D., chief economist and managing principal at Innopiphany LLC, points out that while CMS has changed some policies in support of home infusion, “not everyone is on board.” She notes that the Community Oncology Alliance “has raised safety concerns about home infusion centered on a lack of training of those in the community administering treatment at home versus trained oncology nurses.”
Conversely, the National Home Infusion Association “is strongly supportive of home infusion as a viable option for keeping patients safe,” says Kennedy. She also points out that guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) say that providers should “consider whether home infusion of chemotherapy drugs is medically and logistically feasible for the patient, medical team and caregivers.”
In these guidelines, she says, “ASCO raises the key challenge here, which is how to take a system, process and resource designed to be administered in one setting and then move it to a home setting. It may not be feasible because of training of new staff, available resources, travel constraints, insurance and other logistics that mean that it just can’t be scaled properly. So it really depends on the situation, geography and capability of the center.”
Patients May Like Convenience
“Going forward there will be a lot of candidates for home infusion, and some customers/patients may like the convenience of getting care at home,” says Shehata. Investor respondents to the survey on which the 2020 KPMG Healthcare and Life Sciences Investment Outlook was based “saw a good opportunity in home health care, and that survey was taken before COVID-19. The burden on health systems is going to test new care models and open up more possibilities tied to home health care, including infusion.”
Alternative Care Models May Be Option
“The use of home infusion will also depend upon the nature of the medications used and the amount of time it takes to infuse the drug — anywhere from a half hour to four hours — and any specific handling requirements,” Shehata says. “There might be opportunities for alternative care models to be introduced here. The ability for nurses to teach patients how to self-administer the medicines is an important facet to this.
“However, some patients undergoing infusions of certain medications need to have vital signs tracked and need monitoring for adverse reactions,” he continues. “One option is to use telehealth with telemetry to remotely track a patient’s vital signs to ensure that patients are not suffering from adverse events while undergoing infusion. Another option is the nurse administering the drug can also leave the patient with a cell phone to call if there is any problem with a medication that requires several hours of infusion time. The response time has to be acceptable, and clinical risk has to be appropriate in these matters.”
Steven F. Robins, managing partner and principal at The New England Consulting Group, says while most infusions will still be administered in traditional sites such as hospitals and outpatient clinics, “there will be an evolution towards moving a number of chronic treatments to the home,” including dialysis, a shift that he says already was occurring before the pandemic. “In order for this shift to be significant, however, there will need to be improvements across the integration of smart technologies, including HIPAA-compliant integration of remote equipment and patient monitoring. It is important to remember that during the COVID-19 crisis, some of these requirements have been relaxed.”
Robins tells AIS Health that “we also expect to see a number of diagnostic procedures that are conducted by labs or in providers’ offices move into the home setting. This will result from a combination of emerging technologies integrated with smartphones, as well as providers starting to offer in-home options like mobile imaging stations that can be easily cleaned as they move from patient home to patient home.”
“The outpatient or infusion center-based model is great, but it is going to need multiple approaches tied to the complexity of treatment and also the consistency of treatment. The problem is that the current model is based on convenience for the health system,” asserts Shehata. “This could require some changes in the pharmaceutical supply chain to have the medications delivered at home rather than the infusion center or hospital, but a number of specialty pharmacies manage this process. Home delivery also can help patients who have transportation issues. Having care delivered at the home may also have the net effect of improving medication adherence.”
Contact Booker through Jonathan Durrbeck at JDurrbeck@pcipr.com, Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org, Newcomer at email@example.com, Robins via Renee E. Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rubinstein at email@example.com, Shehata through Bill Borden at firstname.lastname@example.org and Walk through Susan Turkell at email@example.com.
by Angela Maas
As Vice President, Chief Information Security Officer for Option Care Health, Jill Rhodes is passionate about protecting patients’ health information. That starts with fostering a culture of security, a mission that, for her, extends far beyond her job.
Jill compares information security to seatbelts. When laws were first enacted many people grumbled about the hassle. Today, most wouldn’t think of driving off without first putting on the seatbelt. It’s become ingrained in our culture.
“We need to build a very similar culture for information security so that everyone in their daily lives thinks, ‘Am I going to give everyone my credit card over the phone? Did I check that I’m sending the information to the right person? Should I email that personal information?” she said.
Earning industry recognition
Her efforts to create a culture of security at Option Care Health have not gone unnoticed. She was named 2019 Chief Information Security Officer of the Year in Chicago by the Association of Information Technology Professionals, ISACA, FBI-InfraGard, Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) and the Society for Information Management (SIM). She believes she was chosen due to her strategic and holistic (including governance, process, technology and people) approach to health information security.
For example, at Option Care Health, Jill and her team built an ambassador program, in which every Option Care Health location has an information ambassador. These are not IT folks, but infusion therapy nurses, pharmacists and office managers; in other words, those who don’t work in the world of IT, but are affected by it.
“They’re in the field providing infusion services and the more my team and I can share with them, the more we can get this vital information about protecting ourselves and our patients out there to everyone,” she said.
The ambassadors speak monthly to other employees at their locations to provide tips and advice. It’s a grassroots trainer-trainee model that has been successful at Option Care Health. Jill saw benefits of this model in the past as well when she was working with the federal government supporting democratic development in other countries. As a Foreign Service Officer, she educated students about multiparty elections and how to vote. The students would then tell their parents, spreading the knowledge and value of voting.
From national security to patients’ private health information
Her holistic worldview and commitment to creating a culture of security comes from an astounding breadth and depth of life experiences. She worked in international development in Bolivia and Russia as a diplomat and helped people transition to multiparty democracy in Eastern and Southern Africa. Jill has worked for the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the CIA. She was a member of the Senior National Intelligence Service, has a law degree, volunteers with the American Bar Association, and runs the security committee at her temple. Jill has also written for and edited several books on security.
During her work with the federal government, she saw the data and security perils firsthand, but realized the biggest risk lay in the economic risk to the private sector created by cyber incidents. As a result, she resigned from federal service and moved to the private sector.
Improving cyber security at the office and at home
The culture-building is working, says Jill, who notes people now regularly send her emails that don’t look right or tell her their stories of family members being scammed via a simple click of the mouse.
When people ask her what they can do to improve their own security, her standard advice is:
- Educate yourself about threats that exist and how to protect your (and your family member’s) information
- Know what to do when something happens – and it will. The right response is critical
- Talk about experience and technological issues – from phishing emails you’ve received to how to update your devices – with friends, family and coworkers
“Our team members work with patients daily and my role is to help us all protect this information and reduce our risk – not just at Option Care Health, but in every facet of our lives.”
Clinical nutrition is not a solo effort.
At Option Care Health, our registered dietitians are a critical part of the nutrition support team working together with nurses, pharmacists and other clinicians to provide the best care for our patients whether they’re in the hospital or at home.
We focus on a collaborative approach because we know it is most effective for patients and supports optimal outcomes.
Click the link below to read the article posted in Today’s Dietitian.
Infusion therapy devices have been in the news lately—due, in no small part, to concerns surrounding their hackability.
Below, two individuals representing the infusion therapy manufacturing sector Rob Suárez, vice president, chief information security officer at BD, and Matthew Hutchings, ICU Medical’s vice president, global marketing and innovation, infusion systems—join Alyssa Moy, director, adoption and integration at home and alternate treatment site infusion therapy services provider Option Care, to discuss what’s new in infusion therapy and how HTM professionals are integral in keeping infusion devices secure. Don’t miss out.
Click the link below to read the full article published in 24×7 Magazine.
Easing patient worries about therapy costs
Helping ease patients’ financial stress is why Priscilla O’Quinn loves her job. As an Option Care patient benefit navigator, she is a master at unearthing resources to ensure they can afford their medication. In fact, in one five-month period alone, Priscilla secured over $1 million in copay assistance for Option Care home and Ambulatory Infusion Suite patients from manufacturer copay assistance plans and foundation related grant dollars.[*]Savings due to the financial assistance programs referenced in this article may not be available or applicable for all patients.
“I find a way to help people in some way, shape or form,” said Priscilla. “It makes my heart very happy.”
Financial assistance can make the difference
She remembers the man with hemophilia who required life-saving IV Factor VIII protein therapy to prevent excessive bleeding. He couldn’t afford to keep his Medicare supplemental insurance and could only manage to pay a small portion of his bill each month, putting him into growing debt. Priscilla determined he qualified for a hemophilia financial assistance program and enrolled him. The program paid his bill in full and reimburses his insurance premiums.
“When I told him, he said ‘You’re an angel!” Priscilla recalls.
Priscilla constantly monitors foundations and other financial programs to assess when slots for assistance become available and uses a variety of other avenues to help patients receive monetary support.
For example, one patient on Medicare was prescribed subcutaneous immunoglobulin (SCIG) to treat her autoimmune deficiency. She was prepared to tell her doctor she just couldn’t afford the treatment – but Priscilla found a way to help her. Because the woman also had lupus, Priscilla connected her to a foundation that covers almost all of her copay for intravenous IG (IVIG) and assists in paying for her other medications too. She gladly switched from SCIG to IVIG and now pays a fraction of the cost.
Always on the lookout for opportunities
While manufacturers often have financial assistance programs, patients can’t benefit from them if they have government insurance (such as Medicare or Medicaid). So, Priscilla reaches out to foundations and other support plans and – as for the patient with lupus – evaluates if aid is available due to their other conditions. Sometimes changing the method of therapy or medication makes the difference.
Priscilla embodies Option Care’s commitment to providing patients with high quality care and support. She frequently gets calls from grateful patients looking for advice about how to pay for an expensive prescription unrelated to their infusion therapy and she always tries to help. “Money is a big concern and often stops people with serious conditions from adhering to their treatment, so we find a way to solve that problem for all of our patients,” she said. “It means so much when they have somebody who cares for them, and they can really hear it in your voice.”
Today’s value based reimbursement programs require hospitals and health systems to shorten the length of time patients are hospitalized, reduce readmissions and improve quality of care. When post-acute infusion therapy is required, these challenges can be heightened, but are readily achievable for individuals who are relatively healthy, stable, and financially secure.
However, the risk of poor outcomes increases significantly for those who: are sicker and have comorbidities; have limited caregiver support; lack transportation options; or have Medicare without a Medigap plan, a deductible commercial plan or are uninsured or underinsured.
Click the link below to read the full article from Managed Health Executive.
The transition from hospital to post acute care is a vulnerable time for patients requiring infusion.
While all therapies provided at home or in Ambulatory Infusion Suites require excellent clinical care to ensure the best outcomes, parenteral nutrition (PN) is especially critical due to the complexity of this therapy and the increased risk of complications and/or hospital readmission.
Click the link below to read the full article in Infusion Magazine.