Even before COVID-19, private neurology practices were facing financial headwinds. To stay relevant and thrive as costs increased and reimbursements declined, many practices have added new service lines.
Now we are adding infusion therapy to that list. That’s thanks to the recommendation of neurology practice administrator Christine Mann, a neurology practice administrator who spoke at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
The Value of Adding Infusion Therapy
Infusion therapy is traditionally provided in hospitals, but it is getting more popular in outpatient settings, Mann said. The injection or IV-administered treatment is a great additional offering for private practices, since many neurologists regularly prescribe infusions to help manage neurological conditions.
According to Mann, the timing couldn’t be better.
“Right now is a really great time for [adding infusions],” she said. “If you look in the pipeline and what’s in the studies in the coming years, there are a lot of therapies that will be delivered via infusions.”
There are many benefits to adding infusions to your practice, not the least of which is continuity of care and increased comfort for your patients, Mann said.
Patients tend to be more compliant with their treatment when they are comfortable and in familiar surroundings, she added.
Adding a full-fledged infusion center to your practice is no small undertaking, however. It can be costly and require a significant amount of clinical space. For these reasons, Mann recommends doing your homework first to see if it is feasible.
First, neurologists must determine if infusion therapy is a good fit. Mann suggests considering the following:
- Establish if there is a need within your existing patient population
- Survey your community for competitors offering infusion therapy
- Reach out to your local hospitals and other providers to see what the demand is in your area
- Ask your insurance payers about which drugs they cover and settings they prefer
Once you establish the viability of adding infusion therapy to your practice, Mann recommends starting small.
“In the beginning we started with neurology-specific therapies, but we have broadened that out because of demand in the community,” Mann said of the infusion center at Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo, New York, where she serves as chief operating officer.
Over time, her practice has also started to receive requests by certain payers that wanted an alternative to sending patients to the hospital. This increased demand has led to plans for expansion, Mann said.
Don’t Go it Alone
If you want more help with infrastructure and set up, Mann said many practices start by pairing up with a management service organization.
“I’ve seen a lot of practices start with that for a couple of years and then slowly transition into their own management of their infusion center,” she said. “It is certainly a great option if you’re just dipping your toes in the water.”
She also recommends joining a group purchasing organization which can help with price discounts as well as some administrative services.
Christine Mann, MBA is Chief Operating Officer at DENT Neurologic Institute in Buffalo, New York. She is also Director of DENT’s Infusion Centers.