The pandemic has aptly demonstrated that the need for accessible, reliable care services at home is now imperative. Home and specialty infusion services are, we are increasingly seeing, at the top of the list.
In fact, since COVID-19 became a household word, the demand for home infusion has skyrocketed – fueled by clients forced to seek out home-based alternatives rather than visit hospitals and clinics, and by medical systems in desperate need of different approaches as they contend with this paralyzing health crisis.
Even as COVID’s acute challenges begin to fade, our increasingly aging population and the resultant increase in clients with chronic illnesses or mobility issues will ensure that home infusion services will continue to be in high demand. ￼In the U.S., this industry was worth $19 billion in 2019 – and is expected to near $44 billion by 2026 – a figure that does not compensate for pandemic influence. In lockstep with this roughly 11 percent compound annual growth (again, pre-COVID figures) come many changes to the industry – from legislation to payer requirements, to all the moving parts needed to provide functional, efficient home infusion services in an increasingly demanding market.
For agencies, it can be challenging to keep up with such demand, pushing current systems – and the people working within them – to their limits. Meeting clients’ needs requires both innovation and the ability to equally cater to the specific needs of care providers – something that’s not easily handled with traditional analog methods, or outdated legacy software.
Busy Industry Requires Modern Solutions
As the industry expands, the sheer quantity of data grows along with it. Managing it is no simple task: for instance, sharing information about treatment updates between pharmacists and nurses often consumes time that could be spent working with clients.
Ana Carolina Sachs, Director of Nursing with Professional Home Infusion, told AlayaCare that the communication delays that can occur without the right system in place puts the quality of care at risk.
“Nurses receive the notes from a visit back in office in a timely manner in order to identify problems and address them, report changes to the pharmacy, and then bill that pharmacy,” she says.
Without a dedicated system to make this back and forth simpler and faster, the time between correspondence – and the subsequent risk for errors – adds up.
Aside from delays in communication – scheduling, paperwork, and managing both care and ongoing time can be difficult to handle without the right technology in place. In some cases, scheduling difficulties result in nurses spending up to 40 percent of their day on the road, according to Option Care Health Vice-President of Nursing Joan Couden.
Sometimes, new hires are even required to ease the burden of an inefficient schedule, resulting in two nurses being used for tasks that could be properly handled by one. A single nurse can efficiently cover a three-chair clinic, but if care time is not properly scheduled that workload can quickly become overwhelming.
Furthermore, even if extra hands are added to compensate, as the number of home infusion clients continues to increase, the risk of caregiver burnout is an ever-present concern. With skilled professionals already in short supply, maintaining the right work balance for nurses is crucial.
Technology and the Future of Home Infusion
Fortunately, modern home infusion software solutions are flexible enough to help agencies navigate these issues and more. Keeping up with regulations, managing schedules, reviewing performance, and communicating crucial client information can be optimized to increase efficiency and transparency across the board.
Software that is able to use the data you are capturing (perhaps to support specific KPIs) can meet the needs of both home infusion agencies and their clients in several key ways:
- Eliminating manual data: Manual data input for client care or employee oversight is a legendarily time-consuming process that is both unnecessary and likely to lead to human error.
- Mobile solution: Mobile apps make important, relevant data easily filled out and available for review at the press of a button. Real-time updates make it possible to reach efficiencies that keep things running smoothly without the need to sacrifice anything client-side.
- Custom information: KPIs can be customized to display the information most relevant to the user, making it easy to track metrics related to daily activities.
- Efficient scheduling: Maps can be used to help nurses find the most efficient route to go from client to client, with routes updated on the fly should unexpected changes arise. Relatively minor scheduling and travel adjustments can yield substantial time savings.
- Seamless communication: Clients, too, will have an easier time connecting with relevant caregivers due to the ease of communication, making data-driven solutions an improvement on both the client-facing experience as well as the experience on the agency’s side.
AlayaCare’s Proven Support for Home Infusion Providers
AlayaCare’s user-friendly yet comprehensive software has already helped propel several agencies forward into the home infusion market.
At Option Care, for example, AlayaCare’s home infusion software answered the need for a system that was easily adopted by staff who were long accustomed to using traditional methods (notably, pen and paper). Chief Information Officer Brett Michalak says that the software is designed so that “everything is focused around ease of use so that we can provide the best possible care to our patients with the best outcomes.”
AlayaCare also facilitated the ability to perform improved virtual care – a now-vital adjunct to in-person infusion care. Video conferencing and remote patient monitoring for clients whose conditions require frequent check-ins can all be done from a distance. This enables providers to spend more time reaching clients who require the physical presence of a nurse.
AlayaCare also enables tracking for specific training and performance checks on an individual employee level. This not only enables schedulers to ensure that nurses aren’t overworked, but also that continuity of care is not jeopardized, with the ideal nurse assigned to each client based on their specific needs.
Importantly too, the software is intuitive for staff and can be personalized to fit user needs. For Roxanne Marlar at CSI Pharmacy, that meant ensuring that they were able to have detailed, editable notes within the system itself.
“Now, instead of worrying about whether documentation is accurate or about other technical issues, our nurses can focus on our client’s medical needs,” Roxanne says. Their schedules are now color-coded and easier to read, and tasks can be accomplished faster. AlayaCare’s software also enabled the CSI staff to have the most efficient possible payroll and mileage, offering the tools to support nurses on the road while maximizing efficiency and ROI for the agency.
Implementing new software can seem intimidating, but the right software partner is invaluable to maximize growth in this burgeoning industry.
AlayaCare is launching a new annual study on the utilization of technology in the infusion market and will be publishing the results in the 2021 State of Tech in the Infusion Market Report. This year’s report will be the first of many providing data for infusion providers and other organizations around the country to make better business decisions around technology.
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