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How home infusion providers can make workflows more efficient

While home infusion therapy presents an exciting opportunity to serve patients and fill an important gap in the marketplace, a common home infusion industry challenge entails streamlining the pharmacy workflow to improve speed of delivery.

The good news is that a better workflow can help alleviate many of the challenges home infusion providers face. You can save money and deliver care more efficiently by improving processes and standards around pumps and supplies.

Wondering how you can design a seamless home infusion workflow? Here are six best practices for improving the process you have.

1 | Document your existing pharmacy workflow

One challenge is that you won't know where you're losing time and money without getting a thorough handle on where your process might be breaking down via duplication or unnecessary steps.

Start your evaluation with a benchmark assessment to analyze where you might be able to save time by reconfiguring your workflow. Documenting the standard route taken during the average patient interaction can give you insight into physical changes you can make, such as moving your equipment closer together.

Make sure you identify meaningful key performance indicators to help you pinpoint beneficial changes. You might decide you can schedule patient visits in a way that minimizes patient wait time and makes the best use of staff time. Or you might manage home infusion devices differently, such as determining which areas of home infusion device management require the most attention and addressing them. Keep an eye out for wasted time or money – and then problem solve to see what adjustments you can make. 

2 | Reconfigure the workflow to improve efficiency

Using the scorecard you created above, determine the places where you can consolidate or eliminate steps to maximize your efficiency, while ensuring continuous patient safety. You may find that one way to reconfigure your workflow is to change up people's duties. The fewer people involved in each procedure, the lower the risk of error – and the more likely you are to achieve a more efficient process.

As you search for solutions, document each change you make and the benefits it brings. Then, do a thorough review to determine the optimal setup. Testing different options can help improve the process over time. And don't forget to incorporate feedback from patients, caregivers and your own staff as you develop your new process.

3 | Determine how to reduce staff & device downtime

Time is money, and you want to make sure you're optimizing your staff time and device time.

First, you'll want to manage scheduling to better pace patient visits. Consider how to meet their timing requests but also minimize travel back and forth.

Another bottleneck could come from not having enough equipment, which can lead to patient delays. As part of the process, assess your patient-ready equipment so that you know you have sufficient supplies to be prepared to take on new patients and/or serve several existing patients simultaneously.

Finally, identify times that staff is idle when they might be able to prep medication or take care of paperwork that would otherwise languish. Remember that any steps you take to safely speed up your service are likely to directly increase your patient satisfaction.

4 | Standardize equipment & flow

Once you've determined the optimal workflow for your space, document the new steps and make sure the team understands your new procedures. Consistency is vital to reducing mistakes and making sure you're making the most of your staff's time.

Give staff the opportunity to provide feedback on the key components to improve buy-in. After all, a new strategy works only if staff embrace it. Create a guide with easy-to-scan checklists and hold training to ensure proper execution, emphasizing that your new workflow is a work in progress as the team maintains a mindset of continuous improvement. Seeking and following your staff's advice can help them feel more engaged in their work, boosting retention.

The consistency principle applies to equipment, too. Rather than having different models or manufacturers, stick with one supplier and line that's tried and true. Having only one supplier eliminates the time it takes to retrain staff on new equipment and streamlines payments, not to mention the time savings inherent in having less to monitor and track.

5 | Seek input from patients & caregivers

The best people to tell you where there are flaws in a process are those who live it every day; especially if multiple staff deliver different parts of your service, you might not have insight into how the process goes as a whole.

Schedule some time with the patient and the caregiver before or after an appointment – whichever they prefer – to talk about the process and seek their perspective on how it could be improved. Ask them to provide real-time feedback and suggestions that could help you streamline your procedures during treatment administration.

6 | Use software & automation to streamline

Losing devices is time-consuming – and costly. One way to minimize those costs is with software like the McKesson OneTrack™ device management tool, a web-based system that helps you track your equipment. In addition to making it less likely you'll lose a device, it allows you to see where devices are being used (or not used) and when they require maintenance, giving you the ability to redeploy devices that are sitting idle to another location where your client load dictates the need and to perform preventative maintenance.

Outsourcing the labor- and time-intensive task of equipment management can allow you to free up staff time to focus on patients and other value-added services. McKesson Medical-Surgical estimates that you can save up to two hours of employee time per day by implementing an effective device management system – this is in addition to approximately $180 saved per owned device through increased utilization and the reduction in lost equipment.

Home infusion providers know that patient satisfaction and health depend on the provider being able to safely and efficiently offer the care they need. By optimizing your workflows, procedures and device management, you can enjoy a more positive and effective clinic environment every day.

Want to know more about how you can improve your workflow to save money and time, without sacrificing the quality and consistency of service? Contact McKesson Biomedical Solutions™ today to learn more about how we can help.

© 2021 McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc.