January 2022 marked two years since the outbreak of COVID-19, with the healthcare system still working to adjust to a very challenging new reality. However, these challenges have served as a catalyst for important shifts within the healthcare industry, some of which are poised to be a significant part of the 2022 infusion landscape.
Similar to 2020, there were increases in demand in 2021 for infusion pumps to treat COVID-19 patients. Initially, infusion pumps were requested for Covid patients connected to ventilators. Earlier last year, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for monoclonal antibody treatments bringing additional needs for infusion treatments in many alternate care settings. In addition to treatments from within hospitals and clinics, CMS approved infusions of monoclonal antibodies by home care providers for COVID patients.
Treatments like these in alternate care settings are key to understanding how the infusion industry will likely evolve in 2022.
Homecare Will Become a Common Infusion Setting
The trend to care at home was seen globally as a result of the pandemic. With emergency rooms overpopulated, doctors overwhelmed and hospitals crushing under pressure, a shift to home hospitalization proved vital. Even before the pandemic, Hospital at Home (HaH) was being implemented in hospitals around the world with a clear benefit to patient’s mental and physical health by keeping them in familiar surroundings, with the dangers of Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) far away.
In 2022, we can expect this shift to continue and strengthen with the expansion of RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring) reimbursement codes. Expected to go into effect on January 1, 2022, the new RTM (Remote Therapeutic Monitoring) codes may facilitate homecare in three main areas: by allowing the reporting of non-physiologic data; by allowing self-reporting when using FDA-defined medical devices; and the expansion of billing providers to include nurses and others.
Furthermore, many patients have, since the start of the pandemic, pushed off treatments within hospital settings for fear of contracting COVID, making care from home an appealing option. Indeed, with the increased use of telehealth technologies, also a result of COVID, patients are increasingly asking what may be possible to do from home in terms of their medical care.
COVID, has in many ways, given the healthcare industry permission to finally implement the many technologies that will enable the home to become an extension of the hospital, including for infusion treatments previously only delivered in hospitals and clinics.
Connected Infusion Technologies, A Solution to Patient Adherence
As homecare treatments rise in importance in 2022, providers are going to need additional layers of support to ensure that their patients are receiving optimal care in the home environment. Increased home-administered infusion therapies will necessitate the implementation of connected infusion devices to help maintain the lines of communication between patient and provider.
Providers need to know if patients are receiving the infusions they need, and through smart pumps they will be able to determine infusion compliance and intervene when necessary, rather than simply cold calling an entire patient list, providing a new efficiency in home-based patient management. Additionally, connected devices can alert attending medical personnel of any pump malfunctions, potentially improving the quality of care for infusion patients.
New Infusion Data Will Optimize Care
With the increase in home infusions through connected devices, device manufacturers may have greater insight into how these devices are used in the home, what the biggest challenges are for patients, and what could help improve patient compliance. Additionally, data analytics may reveal hidden patterns otherwise inaccessible, potentially contributing to the entire health ecosystem. These data can be tapped into by both the infusion and pharma industries to better understand how treatments are tolerated in the home environment.
For example, providers may find that patients taking parenteral infusions at home regularly receive less medication than prescribed. This may inform prescribing patterns and provide pharma with greater insight into certain patient groups.
With More pumps in the Field, Connectivity will be Essential for Fleet Management
A challenge that healthcare providers may face as more infusion treatments are delivered in alternate care settings will be the ability to manage their fleet of infusion pumps. Locating and retrieving infusion pumps from patient homes can be both expensive and time-consuming. Lost pumps are a common and expensive problem for providers which can be addressed with cellular and Bluetooth tracking capability.
Down-time due to annual maintenance requirements can require additional pumps, which can be a significant cost. Some smart pumps have automated rapid testing capabilities, which allow pumps to be serviced and tested and recertified in a few minutes, potentially improving fleet efficiency.
The infusion industry is constantly evolving as our healthcare system shifts to meet new demands. It is incumbent upon the infusion industry to ensure that it not only advances but focuses on the way in which care is delivered to provide better, safer and more effective treatments.
About Roger Massengale
Roger Massengale is the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Eitan Medical, a developer of future-ready infusion therapy systems for hospitals, ambulatory & home settings, as well as wearable solutions for easy self-administration. Roger has over 100 patents and has launched products that have generated over $1 billion in medical device sales.