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 immunocompromised 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.