While it’s not necessarily a joyful exercise to think back a year ago to the initial weeks of the pandemic, it’s nevertheless a useful place to start as we consider where the home infusion industry is set to go, from the standpoint of remote technology.
Around this time last year, AlayaCare teams were busy expediting new solutions to support our agency partners and engaging in plenty of discussions around what a digital transformation might look like.
Safety, of course, was a paramount concern. There was a sudden need to consider how schedules could be staggered, how contact tracing could be deployed, how COVID screening tests could fit into mobile caregiver apps, how high-risk clients could be identified and best supported, and how post-illness assessments and tracking systems for staff could roll out.
We also started talking about what interventions – like supervisory visits and routine assessments – could be performed virtually and – most importantly – safely. Home infusion and specialty pharmacy providers began to consider how virtual care and telehealth solutions could be operationalized in this industry, in the face of COVID, but also for the future.
After all, how many nurse visits are for monitoring progress or collecting vitals (as opposed to administering meds)? Could clients and their families be empowered toward greater self-management, with technology like portals keeping everyone up to date on the care plan? Could nurses perform video appointments via secure video conferencing systems built inside the existing software? Could agencies use risk stratification tools to identify and prioritize higher-risk clients, or those whose status may be deteriorating?
One year ago, this specialized industry was responding to a crisis and feeling its way forward.
Virtual Home Infusion Care Is Here To Stay
In accelerating the adoption and development of technology, COVID-19 is a true driver of innovation. Pre-pandemic, we were already seeing a shift of thinking around virtual care and telehealth, mostly as a future investment.
A 2019 McKinsey & Company survey of health system leaders revealed that virtual health adoption was highly concentrated in synchronous telemedicine (audio and video), yet there was limited use of other available virtual health technologies – including remote monitoring, E-triage, and more.
The pandemic has now reshaped the thinking around in-person visits. In fact, according to a 2020 survey co-conducted by HHCN and AlayaCare, 61 percent agreed that integrating virtual solutions would improve business operations.
Now, there is a firm focus on important new questions. When do you have to actually listen to someone's heart and lungs versus doing so through remote technology? How much more efficient and client-centric could you be if nurses performed a new portfolio of virtual visits? Is telemedicine helping expand our services to alternate sites? Can I dive into data and make the agency operate in sync with other stakeholders, creating better care conditions?
While telemedicine care delivery is still fairly new when it comes to home infusion, ongoing research and increasingly real-world evidence are showing a demonstrable impact. Given COVID-19’s effect on the industry, it’s safe to say forward-looking health systems could create a real competitive advantage by scaling broader virtual health offerings.
Q&A With Option Care Health
At the NHIA 2021 annual conference, AlayaCare CEO and Founder Adrian Schauer discussed advanced technology and virtual solutions for home infusion and specialty pharmacy organizations (click here to watch the full presentation).
As a follow-up to his presentation, Adrian spoke with home infusion industry expert Joan Couden, VP of Nursing at Option Care Health – an AlayaCare client that has leaned into innovation as a result of the need to find new answers and responses to the pandemic.
This exclusive interview offers key insights on:
- The ways enterprise home infusion provider Option Care Health is leveraging telehealth and virtual care solutions to enable home and specialty infusion operations.
- The impact of virtual care solutions on the patient experience.
- If interoperability is a priority for Option Care Health
- The roles of advanced technology such as smart pumps and machine learning in home infusion operations.
- Predictions for technology use in home infusion for the next five and ten years.
Watch the full video recording below.