How to Change the Infusion Center Game
With increasing medical costs nationwide, businesses are looking to squeeze efficiency out of every aspect of their industry, and infusion centers are a market where the fragmented market has caused inefficiencies. Infusion centers are a $30 billion dollar industry that serve a patient population of 50 million people, many of whom have an autoimmune disease.
Part of the inefficiency comes from infusion centers not being utilized as affectively as they could. Coordinating scheduling, keeping track of medication, and running the back office of an infusion center can be a tall task because of the constantly shifting nature of the patients and the medicine needed to treat them.
Gus De Avillez is the COO of Rein Healthcare, which runs several infusion centers and specialty and infusion pharmacies in North Texas, focusing on suburban and rural populations. These patients often have to travel long distances to get infusion after leaving the hospital, but the difficulty consistently getting to the centers meant that they would often lapse in their treatment and end up back in the hospital.
Insurance payers are pushing patients out of getting treated in the hospital for infusion therapies, which can be five times as expensive than an infusion center. This means increased demands on existing infusion centers to be able to handle more patients and more complex medications as the industry looks to cut costs.
Rein has found a niche in treating Medicare patients, which have lower reimbursement rates than commercial insurance patients. The company believes it can be efficient enough to make a profit serving this population, but with those lower margins Rein needs to be especially efficient, utilizing tools and technology to increase productivity and decrease costs.
In 2018, Rein implemented WeInfuse, a workflow solution company for infusion centers. “Using WeInfuse allowed for better control, with a more efficient back office,” says Avillez. “We can monitor what is happening, control inventory to a much greater degree. When it costs thousands of dollars for a vile of medication, you can get yourself in trouble quick.”
The software helps Rein navigate insurance hurdles, patient scheduling, and keeping track of the wide range of medicines administered at the center. Infusion centers treat rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, ALS, lupus, and more, meaning there are diverse and expensive medications that need to be organized, stored, and administered efficiently. WeInfuse has been implemented in over 100 infusion centers across the country.
When running a specialty pharmacy, this coordination is essential. If a patient cancels an appointment too late, then the pharmacy is unable to return the medication in time for it to be used by anyone else. WeInfuse helps them make sure they have what they need just in time and reduce the risk of eating those costs, which are especially harmful when there are lower margins treating Medicare patients.
“No one has a road map, which makes it pretty interesting,” Avillez says. “We are trying innovative ways to service the market.”