It’s a refrain we often hear, when the discussion turns to the healthcare transformation to value- based care from volume-based care: Right Care, Right Place. When possible, it’s best to treat patients in community settings which have lower overhead cost and reserve pricey hospital care for patients who really need it. So, the question becomes, who really needs to be treated in the hospital?
Patients embrace new community care options
Groups of patients have demanded treatment outside the four walls of the hospital, and the market has complied. End of life care, for instance, is rapidly changing. The vast majority of Americans do not want to die in the hospital, and hospice care has provided a lower-cost, more compassionate alternative for many families. Health outcomes research has also supported recent moves to greatly shorten hospital stays for cardiac bypass patients, instead engaging them in in-home monitoring, telemedicine and outpatient rehabilitation and exercise programs.
Even cancer care, with its increasingly complex drug regimens, is moving to the community to accommodate patients’ desire to minimize the disruption of cancer treatment to their lives. Scientific advancements to cancer care mean that for many, a diagnosis is not a death sentence. Many cancers have become manageable chronic conditions, but they will require ongoing treatment for months or years.
End of life and cancer patients represent two very large cohorts of patients, so it is not surprising that the marketplace has changed to support their preference to receive treatment. There is sufficient volume to support community hospice care and community-based cancer treatment centers.
But other patients are still waiting
There are smaller groups of patients who are looking for new options to minimize the impact of their chronic conditions. People—many of them young and active—who are living with conditions like multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and lupus. Modern infusion medicines have made these conditions easier to manage in recent years. But the care delivery system simply hasn’t caught up with treatment innovation.
A typical patient with one of these conditions must travel to a hospital, find and pay for parking, and then sit in a stark, white room, looking across at a dozen or more patients, all sharing the same infusion center. There is no space, or comfortable chair, for a friend or family member to come along to pass the time. Meanwhile, the healthcare system is paying top dollar for the hospital’s overhead to provide these services.
Many of these patients will need to remain on infusion therapy for the rest of their lives, and that means monthly, or even weekly, trips to the hospital or doctor’s office for therapy that can last three or four hours. What lasts longer is the unpleasant reminder that they are living with a chronic illness, that they are a patient first.
Giving patients choice and convenience
Therapeutic advances like infusion therapy have the power to return more control to these patients’ lives, so that they become a person first. Modern treatments can improve both physical and mental health outcomes by reducing symptoms, but also feelings of helplessness and isolation. However, the healthcare system must move to deliver the care that these people need, where and when they need it.
That’s why we launched Infusion Express, to give these patients, and those with a variety of other conditions, an option outside the traditional healthcare setting, to receive infusion therapy. The locations, in retail plazas, offer free parking and a soothing, comfortable environment with extra chairs for friends or family, flat screen TVs, snacks and healthy hydration. The goal is to provide high quality care at a reasonable cost, while minimizing the disruption to patients’ lives. This helps make it easier for patients to maintain their treatment schedules, which improves health outcomes. This is the definition of Right Care, Right Place.