While Vital Care’s franchise pharmacies treat patients in their local communities during the COVID-19 crisis, Vital Care’s corporate team also is working with the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) and other groups to promote new legislation that expands access to home infusion treatments. Currently, Medicare covers a limited set of drug therapies for home infusion reimbursement, while most private insurance payors cover a more comprehensive list of home infusion treatments.
Now is the time, during the COVID-19 crisis, for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand coverage for home infusion, as it has become clear that this is the best path forward for so many patients who need to stay safe at home.
“There is already a comprehensive infrastructure and support system in place to make sure that home infusion can happen safely,” said Logan E. Davis, PharmD, MBA, the director of franchise development for Vital Care Home Infusion Services and chairman of the Board for the National Home Infusion Association.
“Our home infusion pharmacies across the country have implemented screening protocols and best practices to ensure that, when necessary, nurses are able to safely go into the home and administer infusions and leave without risking the spread of the virus. And the vast majority of infusion drugs do not require a nurse to be in the home for every day of their administration.”
One very practical example of this is IV antibiotics for conditions such as skin infections requiring two weeks of infusions.
“This is a therapy that is self-administered by patients every day, all over the country, and paid for by private insurers,” Davis said. “This is one of the big gaps that Medicare has long had, and that we as an industry have been encouraging them to address.”
Read more about the work Vital Care Inc. is doing in response to COVID-19.
Shifting the Culture Toward Home-Based Care
During the shutdown, hospitals have seen a dramatic reduction in patient volume. Clinics and other ancillary surgery centers have been shut down due to elective procedures being suspended. As we near the end of May, some of those facilities are beginning to reopen and patients are beginning to return after a long hiatus.
Throughout this pandemic, patients and providers have learned more about the benefits of home infusion and home-based healthcare in general. From telemedicine to home infusion, there has been a spike in the number of new referrals over the past two months. Most of this is due to patients with acute and chronic conditions who traditionally receive infusion therapy in an infusion center or a physician’s office no longer want to venture into an environment that could put them at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
As this pandemic has triggered a shift in various aspects of life, patients will continue to look for ways to avoid hospitalization unless completely necessary. The hospital is often still perceived by many as a place where you get better, but that is changing. Secondary infection rates are higher now than ever, readmissions within 30 days of hospitalization are increasing, and the costs to patients and third-party payers for hospital-based care continue to increase.
As patients and providers begin to educate themselves on safer, less costly home infusion options available to them, there will continue to be a shift away from hospital systems for care outside of severe illness or trauma situations. As this shift occurs, it will continue to grow and boost the home infusion services industry and increase patient access in local communities.
Currently, the business of home infusion is a good investment for business owners who want to serve their communities. Generally, home infusion services are covered by most major commercial insurance providers and a majority of other insurance payors other than Medicare. Due to the prevalence of home-based care and the needs of those covered under Medicare, Vital Care remains optimistic that there will be a benefit in the near future for Medicare patients.
Helping Your Community with Home Infusion Therapy
So, how can you tell if patients in your area have access to home infusion?
Doing a quick Google search of your local area will tell you if patients have access to quality home infusion or alternate infusion site (non-hospital) services. Many rural areas only have one option: their local hospital. Some might drive 1-2 hours just to get to their appointments while being exposed to the hospital environment.
With only 1500 home infusion providers across the country, there’s a need for local entrepreneurs to create quality home infusion services for their local communities. With the challenges of staffing, accreditation, and start-up requirements, it can be difficult to navigate the waters of starting a home infusion services business. It might take some time to gather the resources and people needed to launch your new business on your own.
That’s why Vital Care, launched in 1986, began assisting pharmacists and technicians in opening home infusion pharmacies in their local communities. Vital Care has more than 30 years experience in assisting potential owners in start-up and accreditation, contracting, credentialing, marketing and servicing patients. Vital Care Home Infusion pharmacies are locally owned and involved in the community. These owner-operators know that at home is better, at home is safer.
Want to learn more about the Vital Care business model and home infusion, reserve your spot at our Vital Starts Virtual Workshop on Thursday, July 23, 2020. You will meet members of the Vital Care Executive Team and have the opportunity to ask questions and have a better understanding of what it takes to be awarded a Vital Care Home Infusion franchise. Sign up now!