Industry Voices—Research shows how home infusion care can help achieve the cost, access, quality trifecta

Nurse about to give an infusion
The costs associated with home infusion are consistently lower than services provided in a healthcare facility, with savings ranging between $1,928 and $2,974 per course of treatment. (Getty/fotografixx)

The high cost of health care is a considerable problem in today’s health care system, impacting payers, providers and patients. With no single solution, companies are looking for innovative ways to help achieve that ever present health care goal, the triple aim of lower costs improved quality, and more favorable patient experience.

One promising area is in home infusion care.

For example, let’s consider a patient who had orthopedic surgery and has developed a post-operative infection. As part of the recovery regimen, the provider prescribes intravenous antibiotic therapy.

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This type of care is often provided in an in-patient setting, which ultimately extends the patient’s stay, increasing the risk of hospital-acquired infections and other complications and can represent an enormous expense to the payer and society.

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However, many do not realize that this type of therapy can instead be administered in an alternative setting – such as the patient’s home – by a specialized and licensed health care provider at a much lower cost.

Receiving therapy at home, outside the hospital or clinic setting, can be a beneficial alternative for many people, including those with a chronic illness, recuperating from surgery, or being treated for an infection. It can be a safe and cost-effective alternative to an extended hospital stay, and it allows individuals to maintain their normal daily activities. For example, home infusion care services can range from administration of anti-infectives (e.g., antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals), chemotherapy, and hemophilia therapies to multiple sclerosis infusions, enteral and parenteral nutrition (tube feeding), pain management and palliative care.

Further, research published in Healthcare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation underscored the value of home infusion services, demonstrating that patients who received intravenous therapy at home had as good or better clinical outcomes as those patients who received the same therapy in a traditional health care setting.

The research also showed that patients overwhelmingly preferred receiving their infusion therapies at home, reporting fewer disruptions in personal schedules and responsibilities. Additionally, the costs associated with home infusion were consistently lower than services provided in a health care facility, with savings ranging between $1,928 and $2,974 per course of treatment.

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In a separate study published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences, researchers found low rates of adverse events – just 2.0 percent of all infusions – in patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis receiving infused infliximab at home instead of a hospital setting.

Recently, there has also been an increased focus on decreasing the length of inpatient hospital stays to help reduce costs and also to decrease risk of a hospital-acquired infection. Some infusion patients are immunocompromised and are at greater risk for infection so avoiding a prolonged hospital stay is important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 31 patients acquires an infection during a hospital stay in the U.S., and these infections can be deadly.

Ultimately, payers and providers alike are supporting patients who require infusions in an effort to help achieve the cost, quality and experience triple aim. Home infusion care is one way to help achieve the triple aim of better care, lower cost and improved patient experience.

Tricia Lacavich is vice president of CVS Specialty Coram Infusion Services.

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