Archive for Company News

WAIT…CMS DID WHAT?!

Congress finally made some progress towards providing home infusion services to Medicare patients back in 2017 when they passed the 20th Century Cures Act. They opened up the opportunity for patients with heart failure, cancer, and the immunocompromised (billed under Part B) to get services through an agency such as Infusion Solutions. Patients love this, and it saves Medicare money versus sending these patients to more costly sites of care such as skilled nursing homes or hospitals. This benefit is slated to begin in January 2019.

But CMS (Center for Medicare Services), the government body that implements the aforementioned law, is interpreting Cures in a vastly different way then what Congress intended. In short, they are suggesting that reimbursement for home infusion is only billable on the day when an RN shows up at the residence to do the infusion, which is generally once per week. This reading of the law disregards the “behind-the-scenes” professional services that go into managing patients the other 6 days of the week, including sterile compounding of medications, care management, pharmacy services, lab reviews, updates to the patient plan of care, and more. If CMS doe not change the way they implement the Cures Act, it will essentially eradicate the home infusion benefit that Congress specifically wrote the law to protect. No infusion company can survive on one billable day of service.

All of this is quite baffling and a bit hard to believe.

BUT…all is not lost. We are in the last stages of the comment period for CMS, and so they need to hear from YOU. Voice your concerns to CMS and to your members of Congress, and tell them to get this right for patients. It is critically important to do this NOW, as the comment period ends on Aug 31st.

Below is a link to a site which will allow you to do just that. Take a moment to make your voice heard. Feel free to customize the letter (that is impactful) but if you do, make sure your letter contains the following sentiment:

CMS should define “infusion drug administration calendar day,” for both the temporary and the permanent payment, to include the broader set of professional services including pharmacy services (such as drug preparation and dispensing), case management, nursing services, and other professional services. CMS also should broadly define infusion drug administration calendar day to include “home infusion professional services” and remove the physical presence requirement.

Got it? Good! NOW GO DO IT!

http://www.nhia.org/Part_B_Reimbursement/take_action_b.html

THANK YOU!

REFERRAL SOURCE SATISFACTION 2018

Each year, we reach out to our referral partners and ask them to fill out a satisfaction survey. We do this in order to satisfy the requirements of our accrediting body (ACHC) and in order to get better–it is our number one priority to ensure our patients and referral partners are happy. We could not exist without them!

Our survey is 10 questions, and available on-line for our partners convenience. We reached out to a wide variety of sources, including hospital discharge planners, physician offices, oncology centers, home health and hospice partners, skilled nursing homes, and more. We had 38 surveys returned.

We are happy to report our 2018 results. Our average score across all questions was 4.65/5! This is a great testament to the entire team, from reception, to pharmacy technicians, to nurses, to reimbursement, and delivery drivers. Everyone here contribute to the overall experience, and 4.65/5 is getting pretty close to perfect…definitely an A!

The full results are below. Thanks to all who provided feedback, we appreciate it!

2018 REFERRAL SOURCE SATISFACTION SURVEY RESULTS

Q1: MAKING A REFERRAL TO INFUSION SOLUTIONS IS SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD.

 

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

76.32%

29

23.68%

9

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

 

38

 

4.76

 

COMMENTS:

 

Q2: HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE CUSTOMER SERVICE WHEN YOU CALL INFUSION SOLUTIONS?

 

Excellent Good Average Poor Very Poor N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

86.84%

33

13.16%

5

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

 

38

 

4.87

 

COMMENTS:

I really appreciate that someone is always available, even on the weekends!!

Everyone is so nice and helpful!

 

Q3: WHEN I MAKE A REFERRAL TO INFUSION SOLUTIONS, I GET A CALL BACK IN A TIMELY MANNER REGARDING ACCEPTANCE OR DENIAL OF THE REFERRAL.

 

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

71.05%

27

26.32%

10

2.63%

1

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

 

38

 

4.68

 

COMMENTS:

Chuck and Lynn are amazing at getting back to case management about insurance, patient costs, etc. very quickly

Same day if not the following day in the morning.

I usually hear back in a couple of hours. Occasionally it is the next day, but this hasn’t been a barrier to care.

 

 

Q4: IF MY PATIENT HAS INSURANCE BARRIERS FOR HOME INFUSION, INFUSION SOLUTIONS OFFERS A THOROUGH EXPLANATION AND ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS FOR INFUSION CARE.

 

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

56.76%

21

32.43%

12

10.81%

4

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

 

37

 

4.46

 

COMMENTS:

LOVE this! Chuck is extremely helpful in explaining benefits and alternative options.

Very informative.

 

Q5: IT IS EASY TO REACH INFUSION SOLUTIONS AFTER HOURS TO MAKE A REFERRAL (ON EVENINGS AND WEEKENDS).

 

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

39.47%

15

26.32%

10

10.81%

4

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

34.21%

13

 

38

 

4.38

 

COMMENTS:

I usually call during business hours weekday

I do not work eves and weekends, so I am not aware of this.

I have never called after hours

I’m not responsible for anything related to after hour or weekends

 

Q6: THE LIAISON SERVICE OFFERED BY INFUSION SOLUTIONS MAKES THE DISCHARGE PROCESS EASIER FOR MY PATIENTS AND I.

 

 

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

60.53%

23

15.79%

6

2.63%

1

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

21.05%

8

 

38

 

4.73

 

COMMENTS:

 

I am not sure of this service…but usually get assistance by pharmacy

In my clinic RN role, I currently am not responsible for hospital discharge transitions. PS, grammar rules say, “…my patients and me”.

Chuck makes this look easy. Would not change a thing. He seems to always be there when we need him.

I can’t speak highly enough about the liaisons! All we have to do is give them a facesheet and everything else is taken care of, they talk to the patient, explain everything, coordinate with physicians etc, and I don’t have to be the middle man!

Chuck is a life saver and makes the referral process and discharge planning very easy.

The liaison is always in the right place at the right time. I love their willingness to step into a patient’s room to demystify the process.

 

Q7: MY PATIENTS SEEM SATISFIED WITH THE SERVICES THEY RECEIVE FROM INFUSION SOLUTIONS.

 

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

63.16%

24

34.21%

13

2.63%

1

0.00%

0

0.00%

0

21.05%

8

 

38

 

4.61

 

COMMENTS:

 

Patient’s always go back to your service if used before.

Our patients are always so thankful for the nurses and staff at IS

I never get feedback

Pt very happy with the service they receive from Infusion Solutions.

 

Q8: I AM FULLY AWARE OF ALL OF INFUSION SOLUTIONS SERVICES, BOTH AT HOME AND IN THEIR INFUSION SUITES.

 

 

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

39.47%

15

28.95%

11

18.42%

7

7.89%

3

0.00%

0

5.26%

2

 

38

 

4.01

 

COMMENTS:

 

I know what I need to know about OB; I have less knowledge about cancer, other areas.

I only refer patients to home services in our area.

I have only referred pts for 5-fu and home hydration. If there are other services to utilize for my patient population that would be nice to know.

 

Q9: I WOULD RECOMMEND INFUSION SOLUTIONS TO PATIENTS AND OTHER PROVIDERS FOR INFUSION SERVICES.

 

 

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree N/A Total Weighted Average

Weighted Average

84.21%

32

13.16%

5

2.63%

1

0.00% 0.00%

0

0.00%

0

 

38

 

4.76

 

COMMENTS:

 

I have all the confidence in the world for your services. Love that you are local and such an important part of our community! We need you. 🙂

MEET CORTNEY!

Cortney Howell is our newest addition to the Reimbursement Team. She could not have come at a better time–her 18 years of infusion reimbursement experience will prove invaluable to our ever-growing business.

Cortney’s childhood was full of motion and movement. She was born in New Orleans, but her father’s law enforcement work moved the family to Memphis, Vancouver BC, and finally…Blaine, WA. She graduated high school as a Borderite in 1997 and then took to the road, ending up in Kansas City working for a home health company. She liked the work, and proved quite adept, so when she came back to the Northwest after a few years, she landed a job with Option Care in their Bellingham location.

She continued to develop her skills within the industry, and was ultimately offered the reimbursement manager position in the Kennewick, WA office. She spent four years there, but decided to come back to Marysville to be closer to family. She remained at Option Care until early 2018, and has now begun her next career phase with us at Infusion Solutions. Yay! Over the past 20 years, Cortney has done just about all there is to do in infusion/home DME reimbursement, and we are excited to tap into her vast experience. She is a self-starter, an industrious worker, and a real pleasure to have in the office.

Outside of work, Cortney enjoys gardening, scrapbooking, music, and travel. She is married with two boys, ages 22 and 11. The older boy stands an impressive 6’7” tall, lives locally, and works for Coke. The younger boy is a sports fan and enjoys playing lacrosse the most. The family is rounded out by their two dogs, Cash and Willow.

Cortney’s favorite concert of all time is the Garth Brooks show she saw last year, but she is going to Pearl Jam in the very near future…so maybe her love of grunge will supplant her love of Garth.

Welcome Cortney!

 

FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL

Everyone was friendly and helpful. My home setting was unique and everyone was accommodating, understanding, and professional. Thanks! Thanks! -BN, Granite Falls

Infusion Solutions Hires a New Pharmacist

It takes a village to raise a pharmacist.

Fun fact: municipalities of less than 500 people have to be chartered as “villages” in Missouri, so our new pharmacist, Jennifer Harbick PharmD, did in fact spend her childhood in a village. She grew up in Josephville, MO (pop. 300-ish), just east of St. Louis. She and her 3 siblings spent their time outdoors, running barefoot, driving tractors, tending to the crops, and doing the necessary chores on their family homestead. As a result, Jennifer developed a strong work ethic that has served her well throughout her life.

To wit: at 16, she took the advice of her brother-in-law (who was in the drug wholesale business), marched into the local K-Mart Pharmacy, and basically demanded a job. This proved pivotal in her life path as she now set her sights on science and pharmacy. She graduated from high school and immediately enrolled in the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. She commuted 65 miles one-way (uphill, in the snow…) everyday, worked at the local Walgreens pharmacy, and eventually graduated in 2001 with her PharmD. Dedication!

While in pharmacy school, she had a rotation in Anchorage, which opened her eyes to the West. When a recruiter for St. Joseph hospital called, she jumped at the chance and on the unforgetful day of 9/11/2001 ventured to Bellingham to work in the hospital. From there, she opened and managed a Walgreens in Bellingham, then moved into home infusion with Option Care, where she orked from 2006-2017. Jennifer is now here at Infusion Solutions, and feels blessed to have the opportunity to do the work she loves. She very much enjoys the collaborative clinical environment, and the ability to really get to know the specialty drugs that are the cornerstones of infusion therapy.

Jennifer is married with two kids, ages 9 and 6. They have an active family life that involves church, school, scouts, theater, camping, boating, and more. If time allows, Jennifer loves to read and spend time gardening and cultivating their 5 acre property, re-creating the village of her youth…
We love her precision, thoroughness, and expertise, and feel she is a great member of the team.
Welcome Jennifer!

Infusion Solutions Hires a New Nurse

At morning report recently, I noticed a new nurse in the room. I was surprised at how at ease she was, contributing to conversations and cracking wise like she had been at Infusion Solutions for a long time. I liked her right away–she just fit in and understood how to integrate herself into the group seamlessly. After talking to her about her upbringing, I can understand why.

Check out Caroline’s whirlwind journey through childhood; born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, then on to Chicago, then Geneva, Switzerland, then Korea, then Japan, then back to Korea (where she graduated from high school), with multiple stops in Hawaii throughout. Though she “hated” all this moving at the time, Caroline does credit this unique upbringing for her ability to handle new situations well and to connect with people from all walks of life. This explains the ease with which she integrated into the Infusion Solutions family!

After high school, Caroline was dead set on saving the beautiful world she grew up in, so she attended the University of Michigan and obtained an Environmental Science degree. However, that path proved too fraught with politics, and she transitioned into nursing in order to empower people to get and be well. This meant another round of schooling, this time at Flinders University in Australia, where she obtained her BSN in 2005. Her nursing experience includes urgent care, nephrology, dermatology, and home infusion. She particularly enjoys home infusion because it is truly patient focused and allows patients to take ownership of their health, which is critical to their success. Her clinical abilities are excellent and her interpersonal skills are a great asset to her chosen profession. She is now saving the planet one patient at a time.

Caroline is married to a native Spaniard, a gentleman named Benjamin whom she met on a ski trip to Italy in 2015. They lived in Spain for a period of time before choosing to settle in Bellingham early in 2018. They love skiing/snowboarding, eating great food, jamming to music of all genres, and of course…travelling. New Zealand is next on the list.

And even though her first name adds to our Caroline Confusion (we now have three of them), we couldn’t be happier to have her on board! Welcome Caroline the Third!

Infusion Solutions Hires a New Nurse

Infusion Solutions is proud to announce the hiring of another full time infusion nurse. Welcome Carrie!

Carrie comes to us via a variety of stops. Her father’s job moved the family quite frequently, with stops in Cedar Rapids, Fargo, and St. Louis, where she ultimately graduated from high school. She remained in Missouri to pursue a degree in Biology at the University of Missouri, but then switched lanes late in her college career to pursue nursing. She was awarded a BSN from St. Louis University, and thus her nursing career was born.

Her first RN work was hospital-based, spending seven years each in both the orthopedic wing and the special care nursery. Looking for change, she tried a stint with Express Scripts doing home infusion, and found that she really enjoyed it. It was at this time that her husband (also a nurse) took a travelling position that brought them to northwest for what was to be a one-year visit. But Bellingham worked it’s magic, and now the family is here to stay, to work and to play in the bounty that is Whatcom County. Carrie was looking to get back into home infusion, and we needed a high-quality, skilled RN with diverse experiences–so it made perfect sense to bring her on board! She values working for a small, independent organization such as Infusion Solutions.

When not at work, she and her husband (and their two dogs) spend their time hiking, kayaking, and generally exploring all there is to offer here. Reggae is her musical jam, but she also fancies a trip to Ireland soon. The weather is nicer in Jamaica, but either choice is great!

Welcome Carrie, we are glad you are with us!

Infusion Solutions Featured in Whatcom Talk

Infusion Solutions was recently featured in Whatcom Talk, a local news organization and media outlet based in Bellingham, WA. They are part of a larger “talk” network that spans numerous counties in Western Washington and beyond. Given the polarizing and acerbic nature of most news feeds today, we really value Whatcom Talk’s focus on what is positive and good about the community in which we live. It is a site worth supporting!

Check out the article on Whatcom Talk’s site here: https://webmail.hinet.org/owa/redir.aspx?C=gyA0H5UmjruW6pJjKaPz6WN0shPaEJ4Cezk7mnGJM1gD8ey5SzfVCA..&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.whatcomtalk.com%2f2017%2f11%2f22%2finfusion-solutions%2f

And for those who would rather read the article, here it is:

As Washington State’s only independently-owned home infusion service, Infusion Solutions has a reputation for always saying “yes” to their patients and referral sources alike. “We have consistently done the right thing,” says Infusion Solutions’ Account Manager Chuck Loos. Indeed, their mission statement puts patients first, and they always strive to meet their unique individual needs.

The onsite specialty pharmacy provides additional services such as compounding prescriptions for other facilities as well as patients of Infusion Solutions. Photo courtesy: Infusion Solutions.

While infusions may not generally be at the forefront of people’s minds until they find themselves in need of services, it is important to know what options are available. Infusion Solutions provides infusions of all kinds including IV antibiotics, TPN, enteral nutrition, hydration, chemotherapy and more. They also infuse specialty medications such as Remicade, IVIG and Tysabri, and offer travel consultations and vaccines.

The home infusion industry is a solution for many patients with a variety of ailments which allows them to remain in a comfortable setting. The objective is to keep people out of more expensive sites of care, such as nursing homes and hospitals, and home in a warm and familiar environment.

Rowena Birnel RPh, owner and operator of Infusion Solutions, decided to take her extensive fourteen-year knowledge of the home infusion industry and open a new location after leaving a large national home infusion company. She opened Infusion Solutions in 2010 with only five employees. They now have 27 employees and see patients in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Shohomish and even northern King counties.

Conveniently located just off Meridian in Bellingham, Infusion Solutions provides a comfortable setting for patients receiving infusions. Photo courtesy: Infusion Solutions.

Their facility on Prince Street just off Meridian in Bellingham boasts large, comfy chairs with amenities such as movies, television, free Wi-Fi and blankets. Comfort is key for those patients who come to the facility for their infusions, often staying as long as six hours depending on the type of infusions they are receiving.

Currently, the Infusion Solutions clinical team consists of four pharmacists, 11 RNs, eight pharmacy technicians and one registered dietitian. They are truly collaborative advocates of their patients, meeting daily to discuss the optimal way to provide care for each patient they serve.

“How we go about our business is what differentiates us,” says Loos. “We are constantly and consistently patient-focused. When you call our office, you get a live person. Our team interacts with each other and are always looking for what could be improved or done better. That’s what makes us different.”

Comfy chairs and warm interactions are just part of the extraordinary service provided by Infusion Solutions. Photo courtesy: Infusion Solutions.

Loos explains that the patients are an integral part of the home infusion process. Patients and caregivers are taught the modalities needed to self- administer the infusions at home. Once that initial teaching and training is complete, the patients are seen weekly for lab draws, dressing changes and full RN assessments. While the staff may not see their patients every day, they interact often and are on call twenty-hours a day, seven days a week.

From a five-week old to a 102-year old, patients’ needs vary as much as their difference in years. “We’ve seen some young mothers through some pretty challenging pregnancies,” says Loos as he compassionately describes the types of patients they are fortunate to serve.

As an accredited specialty pharmacy, Infusion Solutions is able to further meet the needs of patients living outside their local service territory. “We’re able to compound the drugs in our pharmacy and ship them,” explains Loos, who says they currently ship as far as Eastern Washington and northern Idaho. They coordinate with nursing agencies in those locations to fulfill the administration side of the home infusion process.

With high ratings from clients, the team at Infusion Solutions is incredibly patient focused. Photo courtesy: Infusion Solutions.

Infusion Solutions has proven that they meet and exceed patient expectations when it comes to high quality service. “Of all of the [customer] surveys collected, not one said they wouldn’t come back or refer us to friends and family,” says Loos. “We have gotten some amazing thank you cards from people we have helped through some really tough times.”

That compassion and caring is apparent in Infusion Solutions‘ commitment to the community. Each year the company supports various sports teams and tournaments, senior events and more, including productions at Mount Baker Theatre.

While you may not be thinking about infusions today, it is good to know you have a choice in care when and if the time comes. Thanks to Infusion Solutions, you or your loved one will have the best options in home infusion care.

INFUSION SOLUTIONS IS NOW A RADICAVA TREATMENT CENTER

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is an unfortunate condition that causes the death of neurons which control voluntary muscles. ALS patients decline over time and at varying rates, but all have similar constellation of symptoms, including stiff muscles, twitching, weakness, and a decrease in muscle mass. All of this contributes to difficulties in speaking, swallowing, and eventually even breathing. Once diagnosed, the prognosis is poor; most patients have a life expectancy of 3-5 years.

For patients and families living with ALS, this can be a harrowing experience, amplified by the relative lack of available medical help. There are no “cures”, and there has not been a new drug introduced in the marketplace for ALS patients in the past 20 years. However, in August of this year the FDA approved Radicava (MTPA Pharmaceuticals) for the treatment of ALS, and it has shown to be effective in slowing the rate of disease progression by about 33%. This is a meaningful change in the quality of life for ALS patients and their families.

Radicava is administered via infusion. The first cycle consists of 14 consecutive days followed by 14 days off. All cycles thereafter consist of 10 infusions over a 14 day period, followed by 14 days of rest.

Radicava’s distribution is limited to a network of approved facilities, and Infusion Solutions has been approved as a site of care for Radicava patients. Currently, all of our Radicava patients are coming into our infusion center in Bellingham to receive their therapy. We are working with the manufacturer to determine if these infusions can eventually be transferred to the home settings, and if so, perhaps patients and caregivers can be trained to administer them. We will receive formal training in November regarding these questions–stay tuned.

If you or anyone you know would like more information about Radicava or Infusion Solutions, please call our office at 360-933-4892. Our expert staff can help get you going in the right direction

 

 

Some Infusion Providers Now Taking Medicare Patients on a Case-by-Case basis

The recent passage of the 21st Century Cures Act has placed some very real constraints on home infusion providers caring for Medicare patients. The Act severely slashed reimbursement rates for certain therapies, prompting some infusion providers to stop taking Medicare patients, or do so on a limited basis. It is a very real issue and puts patients at risk.

Infusion Solutions has always done whatever we can to accept Medicare patients and provide them with exceptional care. Some are forced to pay out-of-pocket costs, but find that it is worth the money spent to be at home where they belong.  We will continue to service the Medicare population to the best of our ability, and offer them the lowest possible rates to help make home infusion a viable option.

Here is a link to a blogpost which flushes out the rationale of some providers to stop taking Medicare: http://www.hmenews.com/article/infusion-providers-take-medicare-patients-case-case .