In-office infusion centers can increase patient retention rates, and bolster your practice’s financial health. Studies have shown that infusion treatment times are shorter, and adverse reactions are fewer for in-office care settings as opposed to in-hospital.
Despite these benefits, many medical professionals hesitate to take the plunge on setting up an in-house infusion center, citing multiple obstacles. However, creating and maintaining an in-office infusion center is not only possible, it’s a great way to increase patient satisfaction and financial health.
The case for in-office infusion
In-office infusions offer a number of advantages for both patients and doctors. They tend to be more convenient for patients — closer, more navigable, and more accessible.
Patient satisfaction tends to be higher since in-office infusions are overseen by a doctor that the patient has likely come to know and trust. Without the shadow of hospital overhead, they’re also significantly less expensive.
In addition to bolstering the financial health of the practice, retaining patients also encourages continuity of care, which is a key to ensuring optimal patient outcomes. It’s a win-win for both patients and doctors.
There are a number of challenges with hospital and at-home infusions that are manageable with in-office centers. In-office treatment gives a far more comfortable setting for patients receiving infusion treatments for chronic conditions like MS, and studies have shown they increase patient satisfaction and compliance.
Since administration occurs at a scheduled place and time by a dedicated MD, compliance and treatment program completion rates are much higher than those seen in at-home and hospital outpatient programs.
But, the case for an in-office infusion center runs deeper than that. In a landmark study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that the diagnosis of a stress-related disorder significantly increased the risk of developing a subsequent autoimmune disorder by 36%. These autoimmune disorders often require infusion treatment.
Unfortunately, when infusions are completed in a hospital, the infusion process can itself become a substantial contributor to stress. Figuring out where to park and walking long distances through multiple wards to get to your monthly infusion can add stress and anxiety to your treatment.
The added stress of hospital infusion can create a dangerous cyclical effect with the potential to result in poor patient outcomes.
Infusion centers & practice administration
In the absence of an in-office infusion center, practice administrators or their teams typically handle outpatient management tasks. They schedule patients into a hospital infusion center and manage the prior authorization process and all follow up calls and care scheduling.
Relying on hospital outpatient infusion centers for patient care doesn’t just create more work for practice administrators, they deprive practices of the control and visibility required to ensure optimal patient care and ensure the patient is adhering to the correct care plan
Infusion centers can often be helpful for doctors and administrators in specialty practices. For example, neurologists are facing an increasing and challenging competitive environment and reimbursement process. The majority of payors are phasing out coverage for outpatient hospital infusions, meaning that if patients haven’t already found a new site of care in which to receive treatments, they’ll soon be looking for one.
Moreover, the market outlook for the administration of specialty pharmaceuticals is exceptionally favorable, especially for neurologists. For those neurologists who open in-office infusion centers, there are more opportunities to benefit from what has become a critical “ancillary” service.
See the benefits? An in-office infusion center is more important than ever for practices that want to keep up with a changing industry and outshine their competition.
Learn the benefits of in-office care, tips for an in-house transition, and an explanation of risk avoidance - for free! Click here to download.
Planning for an infusion center
Despite the benefits, many doctors still feel they face obstacles to an in-house infusion center that are impossible to overcome. But where there’s a will, there’s a way! Many of these obstacles can be bypassed through strategic planning.
Where will I find the space?
In-hospital infusion centers are prone to overcrowding — which can result in slower service and a lower quality of care. On the other hand, in-office infusion centers are designed to fit your office’s and your patients’ unique needs and are impervious to overcrowding since your practice likely has nowhere near the patient volume of a hospital.
With effective scheduling and patient flow management, one or two treatment areas will be sufficient to treat all of the patients who need infusion services. Additionally, consider the current economy of your office space. Evaluate overall utility and identify where a small two-to-four-chair infusion center could create value within a space. In an average doctor’s office, there is more than enough room to install an infusion center with a little planning!
How will I make money?
On top of maximizing the safety, cost-effectiveness, and comfort of the patient experience, in-office services act as a significant value-added component to any doctor’s practice.
More frequent patient visits equates to more opportunities for doctors to build rapport and eventually a strong interpersonal bond with their patients — which inevitably results in higher retention rates and increased long-term revenue.
Growing with an infusion center
Once your infusion center is set up, it’s simple to position your practice for success. With the addition of an infusion center, you can better deliver an exemplary patient experience, update your branding, and further expand your services strategically. All of these methods lead to long-term growth if properly executed.
Read more: 4 Ways to Grow Your Medical Practice
You can also expand your patient pool through a number of strategic tactics. A practice can partner with employers that offer infusion services as part of employee benefits to attract large numbers of new patients.
Partnering with brokers and payors also contributes to growth as it allows brokers to introduce your services as a new value-add for potential insurance buyers. But above all, remember the best way to grow your practice is to focus on non-infusion patients, too, as they may require your new services in the long-term.
Finding help for your infusion center
When doctors decide to try and implement an in-office infusion center by themselves, the hurdles they face are significant. Infusion centers require substantial managerial oversight, and will invariably drain staff time and office resources.
So, instead of devoting your own bandwidth to overcoming the hurdles, it’s far easier, and far more effective to bring in an expert. Infusion center specialists like OI Infusion can handle every aspect of the turnkey operation: from staffing to operations and all of the frustrating interactions associated with billing, accounts receivable, insurance appeals, variance review, liability, and legal risk.
The bottom line is that infusion center management is our calling. And partnering with our experts to manage your center frees you up to follow yours.